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'Tis pleasant through the loop-holes of retreat 
To peep at such a world." 



Footsteps of Dr. Johnson 

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the beginning of last year, at the request of Messrs. 
Sampson Low and Co., I began to prepare a work in 
which, under the title of Footsteps of Dr. Johnson, I 
was to describe the various places that he had either 
inhabited or visited. It was to be copiously illustrated with views. 
I had made considerable progress with my task when I saw that 
its extent required that it should be divided into two separate 
works. Scotland in itself afforded ample materials for at least a 
single volume. In this opinion I was confirmed by my friend 
Mr. Lancelot Speed, the artist who was to prepare the illustrations. 
My publishers yielded to our advice and allowed us to confine 
ourselves entirely to that country. The materials which I had got 
together for England and Wales I have put on one side, in the 
hope that the present venture will prove sufficiently successful to 
encourage author, artist, and publishers alike to follow it up with a 
companion work. 

Of Johnson's journey through Scotland we have three different 
accounts, his Letters to Mrs. Thralc, his Journey to the Western 
Islands, and Boswell's Journal of a To^tr to the Hebrides. In 
writing his Journey he may have had before him the letters which 
he had written on the spot. Many interesting circumstances, 
however, which he mentioned in them he omitted in his formal 
narrative. Boswell's Journal, though published ten years after 
Johnson's work, was written first; and it was not only written, but 
it was published before the publication of the Letters. His single 
account, therefore, and Johnson's two accounts are independent 
narratives. It would have been easy to weave all three together 
into one work, and to have done nothing more. It went, however, 

viii PREFACE. 

against the grain with me to make a mixture of that sort. I he 
plan which I have pursued has been much more laborious ; but it 
will, I trust, commend itself both to "the gentle reader" who is, 
I take it, a somewhat indolent reader and also to the student of 
the manners and customs of a past age. Of all history there was 
no part which Johnson held equal in value to the history of 
manners. With this judgment my own taste leads me to agree. 
I take far greater interest in the daily life, the briars and roses of 
the working-day world as it was known to our forefathers, than in 
all the conquests of Chatham and of Clive. I have made, there- 
fore, the attempt to bring before my readers the Scotland which 
Johnson saw, the Scotland which he had expressly come to study. 
" The wild objects " which he said he wished to see I have not 
neglected, but here I trust chiefly to Mr. Speed's art. " The 
peculiar manners" which interested him far more than natural 
objects have been my special study. Even before I took the 
present work in hand I had examined them somewhat closely ; 
but last summer, on my return from Scotland, in a quiet recess of 
the Bodleian Library, I carried my inquiries a good deal farther. 
In covering so large an extent of ground and in such a mass of 
details it is idle to hope that no error has been made. I can 
honestly say that I have done my best to be accurate. 

The country which Johnson traversed is famous for other foot- 
steps besides his. I have called in the earlier and later travellers to 
add interest to the scene, and I have thrown in anecdotes with a 
liberal hand. " I love anecdotes," he said. To Boswell's descrip- 
tions of the men with whom he associated I have often been able 
to add a great deal from memoirs and other books to which that 
writer had not access ; I have gathered some few traditions of the 
Sassenach mo/ir, the big Englishman, which still linger in the 
Highlands and the Hebrides. 

The tour in which I followed his course I was forced to divide 
into two parts. Beginning at Inverness I went first through the 
Western Highlands and the Hebrides, and so southwards through 
Glasgow to Auchinleck, Boswell's home in Ayrshire. Later on I 
visited Edinburgh and its neighbourhood, and completed my task 
by going northwards to Inverness. I mention this to guard against 
any apparent inaccuracy in dates which might be discovered in my 
narrative. I cannot pretend to have seen every place which 
Johnson saw ; but those spots which I passed by are few in 


number. In the former part of my trip I was fortunate enough 
to have Mr. Speed lor my companion ; but over the latter part of 
the ground we had, to my regret, to travel at different times. Like 
Boswell he had done much " to counteract the inconveniences of 

I have the pleasant duty of expressing my acknowledgments 
for the kindness with which I was received and for the assistance 
which was given me in my inquiries. Most of all am I indebted 
to the Rev. Roderick Macleod, of Macleod, Vicar of Bolney, 
who, by the numerous introductions with which he honoured me, 
greatly facilitated my progress in the Isle of Skye. To his father 
Macleod of Macleod, and his aunt, Miss Macleod of Macleod, I am 
under great obligations. My thanks are due also to the Duke of 
Argyle; the Earl of Cawdor; the Earl of Erroll; Sir Charles 
Dalrymple, of New Hailes ; Captain Burnett, of Monboddo 
House; Mr. Macleane of Lochbuie; Mr. John Lome Stewart, Laird 
of Coll; Mr. J. Maitland Anderson, Librarian of the University 
of St. Andrews; Mr. G. J. Campbell, of Inverness; Mr. P. M. 
Cran, the City Chamberlain, and Mr. William Gordon, the Town 
Clerk of Aberdeen ; Mr. Lachlan Mackintosh, of Old Lodge, 
Elgin ; Dr. Paterson, of Clifton Bank, St. Andrews ; Professor 
Stephenson, of the University of Aberdeen ; Mr. A. E. Stewart, of 
Raasay ; and to my friend Mr. G. J. Burch, B.A., Librarian of the 
Institution of Civil Engineers, for some time the Compiler of the 
Subject Catalogue in the Bodleian Library. 

To my friend, General Cadell, C.B., of Cockenzie House, I owe 
the sketches of the ruins of Ballencrieff, and of a group of ash- 
trees which were said to have been planted on Johnson's suggestion. 

Both at I nverary Castle and at Dunvegan Castle I was allowed 
to have photographs taken not only of the rooms, but also of the 
interesting portraits of the former owners who had been Johnson's 

To the Rev. Alexander Matheson, minister of Glenshiel, who 
came many miles over the mountains to help me with his know- 
ledge as a local antiquary, I am, alas! too late in bringing my 
acknowledgments It was with great regret that early in the 
spring I learnt of the sudden death of this amiable man. 

I have once more the pleasure of giving my thanks to Mr. G. 
K. Fortescue, Superintendent of the Reading Room of the British 
Museum, who does so much to lighten the labours of the student. 


Should any of my readers be able to add to the traditions of 
Johnson which 1 have collected, or to throw light on any of the 
questions which I have investigated I trust that they will honour 
me with their communications. Hope comes to all, and a second 
edition of these Footsteps is within the range of possibility. In it 
their kindness shall meet with proper acknowledgment. 

G. B. H. 

OXFORD ; July 4///, 1890. 


The date in each case shows, not the year of the original publication, but of the edition to 

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Arnot, Hugo. History of Edinbitrgh. 
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Beattie, James. Essays on Poetry and 
Music. 3rd ed. London, 1779. 
Scotticisms. Edinburgh, 1787. Life, 
by Sir William Forbes. London, 

Berkeley, George Monck. Poems. Lon- 
don, 1797. 

Boswell, Sir Alexander. Songs chiefly 
in the Scottish Dialect. Edinburgh, 
1803. (Published anonymously.) 

Boswell, James. Life of Johnson and 
Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, ed. 
by J. W. Croker, i vol., 8vo., 1848 ; 
and by G. B. Hill, 6 vols., Oxford, 
1887. Journal of a Tour to the 
Hebrides, ed. by R. Carruthers. Let- 

tei-s to the Rev. W. J. Temple. Lon- 
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Charles Rogers. London, 1874. 
Correspondence with the Hon. Andreii' 
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Buchanan, J. L. Travels in the Western 
Highlands from 1782 to 1790. 

Camden, William. Description of Scot- 
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Carlyle, Rev. Dr. Alexander, Auto- 
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Carlyle, Thomas. Early Letters, ed. 
by C. E. Norton. 2 vols. London, 
1886. Reminiscences, ed. by J. A. 
Froude. London, 1881. 

Castellated and Domestic Architecture of 
Scotland, by David Macgibbon and 
Thomas Ross. 3 vols. Edinburgh, 

Chalmers, George. Life of Thomas 
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Chambers, Robert. Traditions of Edin- 
burgh. London and Edinburgh, 2 
vols., 1825 ; i vol., 1869. History 
of the Rebellion in Scotland, 1745. 
2 vols. Constable's Miscellany, 1827. 



Cockburn, Lord. Life of Lord Jeffrey. 
2 vols. Edinburgh, 1852. Memo- 
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Court and City Register for 1769. 

Cox. G. V. Recollections of Oxford. 
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Creech, William. Letters respecting the 
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(Published anonymously.) Edin- 
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Crokcr,. John Wilson. Correspondence 
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3 vols. London, 1832. 

Defoe, Daniel. Tour through the whole 
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Douglas, Francis. A General Descrip- 
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Paisley, 1782. 

Dunbar, E. D. Social Life in Former 
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Edinburgh Chronicle, or Universal In- 
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Edinburgh. Tlie City Cleaned and 
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Edinburgh Directory for 1773-4, by 
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Brown. Edinburgh, 1889. 

Edinburgh. History and Statutes of 
the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 
1749. Regulations for the. Work- 
house. Edinburgh, 1750. For the 
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Eldon, Life of Lord Chancellor. By 
Horace Twiss. 2 vols. 1846. 

Essay upon Feudal Holdings, Superiori- 
ties, and Hereditary Jurisdictions in 
Scotland. London, 1747. 

Excursion to the Lakes in Westmoreland 
and Cumberland in 1773. London, 

Forster, John. Life of Oliver Gold- 
smith. J vols. London, 1871. 

(larnett, T. M. I). Observations on a 
Tour through tlie Highlands, &c. 
2 vols. London, 1800. 

Garrick, David. Private Correspon- 
dence. 2 vols. London, 1831. 

Gentleman's Magazine. 

Gibbon, Edward. Miscellaneous Works. 
5 vols. London, 1814. 

Gilpin, William. Observations relative 
chiefly to Picturesque Beauty made in 
the year 1776. London, 1789. 

Grant, Sir Alexander. The Story of the 
University of Edinburgh. 2 vols. 
London, 1884. 

Gray, Thomas. Works, ed. by the 
Rev. J. Mitford. 5 vols. London, 

Grierson, James. Delineations of St. 
Andrews. Edinburgh, 1807. 

Henderson, Andrew. The Edinburgh 
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6. 4th ed. London, 1752. Con- 
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vols. London, 

Home, John. Works. 3 vols. Edin- 
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Howard, John. State of the Prisons in 
England and Wales. Warrington, 

Hughes, Michael. A Plain Narrative 
of the late Rebellion by Michael Hughes, 
A Volnnticr from the City of London. 
London, 1747. 

Hume, David. History of England, 
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Irving, Joseph. The Book of Dumbar- 
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Johnson, Samuel. Letters. Published 

by H. L. Pio//i. 2 vols. London, 

1788. Works. ii vols. Oxford, 


Journey through /'art <>f England tint! 
Scot/and with the Army. liy a 
Volunteer. 1747. 

Kames, Lord. Life and Writings. 2 
vols. Edinburgh, 1807. Sketches of 
the History of Man. 3 vols. Edin- 
burgh, 1807. 

Knox, John. A Tour through the High- 
lands, &>c., in 1786. London, 1787. 

Letters from a Gentleman in the North 
of Scotland. 2 vols. London, 1754. 

Letters on Iceland, &c., by Uno von 
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London, 1761. 

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by Sir George Trevelyan. 2 vols. 
London, 1877. 

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vols. London, 1844. 

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M'Nicol, Rev. Donald. Remarks on 
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1846 ; Journal of the Reign of King 

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STAFFA ..... 


FlNDLATER .... . . 


FOYERS ......... 


MAM RATTACHAN ......... 









COLL ISLAND .......... 

SANDILAND .......... 

LOCHHUY .......... 


GESTION. ......... 




facing page 24 


,. 84 

i. I0 4 

.1 '3 

,, 142 

,, 15 


l6 4 

,. 166 


,. 172 

,, 184 


2 4 

,, ,, 206 

, 2I 


l> ., 224 

,, 232 

,, 244 









AliERliROTHICK . . . . 






ELLON ....... 



ELGIN ... ..... 


FORES .... ... 

CAWDOR ..... 









3 1 













1 14 

I 22 
I 3 6 








MAP OF FOYERS ........... 150 

INVERMORISTON . . . . . . . . . . . ic 2 

THE RUINS OF THE HOUSE AT ANOCH . . . . . . . i$$ 


CLUNIE . . . . . . . . . . . . . ^7 

EILAN DONAN ........... 158 



SKYE, FROM GLENELG ......... 166 


CORRICHATACHIN ........... 170 

RAASAY ............. 175 

DUN CAN ............ 178 






DINING ROOM, DUNVEGAN ......... 193 


RORIE MORF.'S HORN .......... 195 


MACLEOD'S TABLES .......... 197 


HERONRY ............ 200 

SACRAMENT SUNDAY .......... 201 


TALISKER HEAD AND ORONSAY . . . . . . . . 204 



ON THE ROAD TO SCONSER ..... ... 212 



COL 215 


COLVAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217 




MULL 227 


CARSAIG ARCHES : MULL ..... . . 232 

KERRERA ISLAND ....... 243 


INVERARY CASTLE . ....... 246 




























TRAVELLER who passed through the Hebrides in the 
year 1786 recorded that in many houses he was given 
the room to sleep in which had been occupied by Dr. 
Johnson. 1 Twenty-eight years later, when Sir Walter 

Scott with some of his friends 

landed in Skye, it was found 

on inquiry that the first 

thought which had come into 

each man's mind was of John- 
son's Latin Ode to Mrs. 

Thrale. 2 The Highlanders at 

Dunvegan, Scott goes on to 

say, saw that about Johnson 

there was something worthy 

of respect, " they could not 

tell what, and long spoke of 

him as the Sassenach i/io/ir, 

or big Englishman." :! He 

still lives among them, mainly, 

no doubt, by his own and 

Boswell's books, but partly 

also by tradition. Very few 

Of the houses remain where UK . JOHNSON'S IJEDRUOM, DUNVEGAN. 

he visited. Nevertheless, in 

two of these in the Hebrides, and in one in the Lowlands, I was 

shown his bedroom. Proud, indeed, would the old man have been 

1 John Knox's Tour through Ike Highlands, ' Croker's Correspondence, ii. 33 ; Croker's 
PP- 77, 132. Boswdl, p. 409. 

2 Croker's Boswell, p. 314. 



could he have foreseen that an Englishman who followed on his 
steps one hundred and sixteen years later would be shown at New 
Hailes, at Rasay, and at Dunvegan, "Dr. Johnson's Chamber." 
At Rasay is preserved his walking-stick not the famous " piece 
of timber " which was destined for some museum, but was stolen or 
lost in Mull but one which he had occasionally used. In his bed- 
room an engraving of him hangs on the wall. The china tea-set 
out of which he had drunk is preserved by a descendant of the laird 
who was his host. At Dunvegan his portrait is set up in a post of 
honour in the noble drawing-room of the famous old castle, and his 
autocrraph letter to Macleod of Macleod rests among the ancient 
memorials of that still more ancient family. That it is endorsed 
" Dr. Johnston's Letter" may be twisted into a compliment. So 
popular was he that his very name was " Scottified." 

In many places I found traditions of him still remaining- some, 
no doubt, true ; others false. But whether false or true, by their 
vitality they show the deep mark which the man made as he passed 
alomr In Glenmorison there are countryfolk who profess to know 
by the report of their forefathers the " clear rivulet " in " the narrow 
valley, not very flowery but sufficiently verdant," where Johnson 
reposed on " a bank such as a writer of romance might have de- 
lighted to feign, and first conceived the thought of the narration " 
of his tour. 1 In a farmhouse on Loch Duich, just below the moun- 
tain which exhausted his patience and good-humour, and nearly ex- 
hausted his strength, I was told of the speech which he made as he 
reached the top of the pass. " He turned as he was beginning the 
descent and said to the mountain, ' Good-bye, Ma'am Rattachan, I 
hope never to see your face again.' " From Rasay a friendly corre- 
spondent wrote to tell me how the great man had climbed up Dun 
Can, the highest mountain in the island, and had danced on the top. 
I have pointed out that it was Boswell and not Johnson who per- 
formed this feat, but the tradition, doubtless, will linger on. At 
Dunvegan Miss Macleod of Macleod, who remembers her grand- 
mother? Johnson's hostess, and her aunts, "the four daughters, who 
knew all the arts of southern elegance, and all the modes of English 
economy," 3 has preserved some traditions more worthy of trust. 

' Johnson's Work,, ix. 36. <*> See Blackie ' S Etynohgical Geography 

2 Johnson calls this mountain "Ratiken;" (ed. 1875), p. 1 12. 

Boswell, "the Kattakin." It is known as Mam- a Johnson's Works, ix. 63. 
Rattachan. Main signifies a mountain pass or 


" One day," she said, " he had scolded the maid for not getting 
good peats, and had gone out in the rain to the stack to fetch in 
some himself. 1 He caught a bad cold. Lady Macleod went up 
to his room to see 
how he was, and found 
him in bed, with his 
wig turned inside out, 
and the wrong end 
foremost, serving the 
purpose of ' a cap by 
night,' like the stock- 
ing of Goldsmith's 
Author. On her re- 
turn to the drawing- 
room, she said, ' I 
have often seen very 
plain people, but any- 
thing as ugly as Dr. 
Johnson, with his wig 
thus stuck on, I never 
have seen.' 2 She was 
(her granddaughter 
added) greatly pleased 
with his talk, for she 
had seen enough of 
the world to enjoy it ; 
but her daughters, who 
were still quite girls, 
disliked him much, 
and called him a bear." 
At the inn at 
Broadford, sitting in 
the entrance-hall, I 


tell into talk with an 

elderly man, a retired exciseman, who lived close by. He, too, 

had his traditions of the Sassenach mohr. His father had known 

"Thepeatsat Dunvegan, which were damp, supplyof peats from tliestack, old Mr. M'Sweyn 

Dr. Johnson called 'a sullen fuel.' Here a Scot- said, 'that was main honest: " Boswell's John- 

tish phrase was singularly applied to him. One son, v. 303. 

of the company having remarked that he had " See Boswell's fohnson, v. 214, for Boswell's 

gone out on a stormy evening, and brought in a account. 


an old kuly, blind of one eye, who was fond of telling how in her 
childhood, at the time of Johnson's visit, she had been watching the 
dancing in that famous farmhouse- of Corrichatachin, where Boswel 
got so drunk one night over the punch, and so penitent the ncx 
morning over a severe headache and the Epistle for the ' 
Sunday after Trinity. 1 A large brass button on the coat-tail of one 
of the dancers had struck her in her eye as he whirled round and 
had so injured it that she lost the sight. My informant had a 
story also to tell of the learned minister, the Rev. Donald Mac- 
queen, who accompanied Johnson in part of his tour. " A crofter 
seein^ the two men pass, asked the minister who was his com- 
panion. Macqueen replied, 'The man who made the English 
language.' ' Then he had very little to do,' rejoined the crofter ; 
meaning, according to the Gaelic idiom, that he might have been 
much better employed." My friendly exciseman had known also 
an old lady who remembered Johnson coming to her father's house 
in Mull. According to a custom once very common in the High- 
lands, though even in those days passing fast away, she had been 
sent for three or four years to a shepherd's hut to be fostered, 
was shortly after her return home that Johnson's visit was paid. 
He did not hide his displeasure at the roughness which still clung 
to her. She had not forgotten, moreover, how he found fault with 
the large candles, rudely 'made of pieces of old cloth twisted round 
and dipped in tallow.- My acquaintance ended his talk by saying : 
" If Dr. Johnson had returned to Scotland after publishing his 
book, he would have got a crack on his skull." 

At Craignure, in the Isle of Mull, the landlord of the little inn 
had his story to tell of the untimely death of young Maclean of 
Col, that " amiable man," who, while the pages of Johnson's Journey 
to the Western Islands " were preparing to attest his virtues, perished 
in the passage between Ulva and Inch-Kenneth." ' My host's great- 
grandmother, a Macquarrie of Ulva, on the night when the boat 
was upset, had been watching the cattle near the fatal shore. An 
old woman who was to have been her companion had failed her, so 
that she was alone. She saw nothing, and heard no cries. " A 

Novell's Johnson, v. 258. with horses; but it is not mentioned that they 

* My informant placed the scene of this story went to his house-they certainly did not pass a 
at the house of a Captain or Colonel Campbell night there. See Boswell's Johnson, v. 332, 
in Mull. There was a Mr. Campbell, one of the 340. 

Duke of Argyle's tacksmen, or chief tenants, in 3 Johnson's Works, ix. 142. 

that island, who furnished Boswell and Johnson 


half-witted person," my informant added, in a serious voice, "had 
warned one of the party not to go ; but his warning was not heeded, 
and the man lost his life." 

At Lochbuie two traditions, I found, had been preserved in the 
family of the laird, the great-grandson of that Maclean of Lochbuie 
whom Boswell had heard described as "a great roaring bragga- 
docio," but found only "a bluff, comely, noisy old gentleman. He 
bawled out to Johnson (as Boswell tells us), ' Are you of the John- 


stons of Glencroe or of Ardnamurchan ? ' Dr. Johnson'gave him a 
significant look, but made no answer." ' The report has come down 
in the family that Johnson replied that he was neither one nor the 
other. Whereupon Lochbuie cried out, " Damn it, Sir, then you 
must be a bastard." There can, I fear, be no doubt that this re- 
joinder belongs to those exccllcus impromptus a loisir in which 
Rousseau excelled 2 that esprit de Cescalier, as the French describe 
it. If the laird, like Addison, could draw for a thousand pounds, 
he had, I suspect, but nine pence in ready money. 1 For had this 
repartee been made at the time, and not been merely an after-in- 
vention, Boswell most certainly would not have let it pass unre- 

1 Boswell's Johnson, v. 341. a See Les Confessions, bk. iii 

3 lioswell's Johnson, ii. 256. 


corded. The second tradition is scarcely more trustworthy. John- 
son at the tea-table, I was told, helped himself to sugar with his 
lingers, whereupon Lady Lochbuie at once had the basin emptied, 
and fresh sugar brought in. He said nothing at the time, but 
when he had finished his tea he flung down the cup, exclaiming 
that if he had polluted one he had also polluted the other. A lady 
of the family of Lochbuie, whose memory goes back ninety years, 
in recounting this story when I was in Scotland, added, " But I do 
not know whether it was true." That it was not true I have 
little doubt. In the first place, we have again Boswell's silence ; 
in the second place, to the minor decencies of life Johnson was by 
no means inattentive. At Paris he was on the point of refusing a 
cup of coffee because the footman had put in the sugar with his 
fingers ; and at Edinburgh, in a passion, he threw a glass of 
lemonade out of the window because it had been sweetened in the 
same manner by the waiter. In one of his letters to Mrs. Thrale 
he expressed his displeasure in Skye at the very practice with 
which he is charged a few weeks later in Mull. Describing his 
visit to the house of Sir Alexander Macdonald, he wrote : " The 
lady had not the common decencies of her tea-table : we picked up 
our sugar with our fingers." 

It is strange that while in Mull, that " most dolorous country,' 
that " gloom of desolation," as Johnson described it, these stories of 
him are preserved, the boatman who took me across the narrow 
passage between it and Inch- Kenneth had no traditionary know- 
ledge of his host, Sir Allan Maclean, and of his retirement in that 
little island. To the forefathers of the men of Mull the head of 
the Macleans would have been an object of reverence and even of 
fear, and Johnson only a passing wonder. " I would cut my bones 
for him," said one of his clan, speaking of Sir Allan in Boswell's 
hearing. 2 But of the Highland chief who lived among them no 
remembrance remains, while the Sassenach mo/ir, who spent but a 
few days in the island-home of the Macleans, is still almost " a 
household word." 

I was indeed surprised to find through the Highlands and the 
Hebrides how much he still remained in men's thoughts. On Loch 
Lomond, the boatman who rowed me to the islands on which he had 
landed, a man of reading and intelligence, said that though he had 

1 fiozzi Letters, i. 138. " Boswell's fo/inson, v. 337. 


himself read Johnson's fourttey, yet "Scotchmen still feel too sore 
to like reading him." Whatever soreness still lingers is, I have 
little doubt, much more due to his sarcasms recorded by Boswell 
than to any passages in his own narrative. But it is surprising that 
Scotchmen cannot more generally join in a hearty laugh at his 
humorous sallies, though they are at their own expense. That 
the Scotch of a hundred years and more ago were over-sensitive is 
not astonishing. At that time in most respects they were still far 
behind England. It was England that they were striving to follow in 
their arts, their commerce, and their agriculture. It was the English 
accent that they were striving to catch, and the English style in 
which they laboured to write. It was to the judgment of English- 
men that their authors, no small or inglorious band, anxiously 
appealed. That they should be sensitive to criticism beyond even 
the Americans of our day was not unnatural. For in the poverty 
of their soil, and the rudiments of their manufactures and trade, 
they found none of that boastful comfort which supports the citizen 
of the United States, even when he is most solicitous of English 
approbation. But at the present day, when they are in most 
respects abreast of Englishmen, and in some even ahead, they 
should disprove the charge that is brought against them of wanting 
humour by showing that they can enjoy a hearty laugh, even 
though it goes against them. Johnson's ill-humour did not go 
deep, and, no doubt, was often laughed away. Of that rancour 
which disgraced Hume his nature was wholly incapable. He 
wished no ill to Scotland as Hume wished ill to England. 1 " He 
returned from it," writes Boswell, " in great good-humour, with his 
prejudices much lessened, and with very grateful feelings of the 
hospitality with which he was treated." : 

Not all Scotch critics were hostile towards him. The Scots 
Magazine, which last century was to Edinburgh what the Gentle- 
mans Magazine was to London, always spoke of him with great 
respect. Writing of him early in the year in which he visited 
Scotland, it says : 

" Dr. Johnson has long possessed a splendid reputation in the republic of letters, 
and it was honestly acquired. He is said to affect a singularity in his manners and 
to contemn the social rules which are established in the intercourse of civil life. If 
this extravagance is affected, it is a fault ; if it has been acquired by the habitudes 

' See Letters of David Hume to William Strahan, pp. 56, 114, 132. 
2 Boswell's fohnson, v. 20. 



of his temper :md his indolence, it scarcely merits censure. We allow to the man 
who can soar so high above the multitude to descend sometimes beneath them." 1 

In the two reviews of his fottnuy in the same magazine, there 
is not one word of censure ; neither when Boswell, eleven years 
later, brought out his account of the tour, had they any fault to find. 
In the character which they drew of Johnson on his death they 
leave unnoticed his attacks on Scotland. They are even generous 
in their praise. Speaking of his pension they say : " It would 
have been a national disgrace if such talents, distinguished by such 
writings, had met with no other recompense than the empty con- 
sciousness of fame." : There were also men of eminence in Scot- 
land who at once acknowledged the merits of the book. " I love 
the benevolence of the author," said Lord Hailes. 3 The "virtuous 
and candid Dempster," the ''patriotic Knox," Tytler, the historian, 
" a Scot, if ever a Scot there were," had each his word of high 
praise.' Sir Walter Scott, writing many years later, said : " I am 
far from being of the number of those angry Scotsmen who imputed 
to Johnson's national prejudices all or a great part of the report he 
has given of our country. I remember the Highlands ten or twelve 
years later, and no one can conceive of how much that could have 
been easily remedied travellers had to complain."' 5 

These men, nevertheless, formed a small minority. The out- 
cry that was raised against Johnson was at once loud and bitter. 
To attacks for many a long year he had been used, but yet this 
time he was startled. " He expressed his wonder at the extreme 
jealousy of the Scotch, and their resentment at having their country 
described as it really was."" Boswell mentions "the brutal 
reflections thrown out against him," and " the rancour with which 
he was assailed by numbers of shallow irritable North Britons." 7 
How quickly the storm gathered and burst is shown in a letter 
written by an Englishman from Edinburgh a few days after the 
book was published : 

"Edinburgh, Jan. 24, 1775. Dr. Johnson's Tour has just made its appearance 
here, and has put the country into a flame. Everybody finds some reason to be 
affronted. A thousand people who know not a single creature in the Western Isles 
interest themselves in their cause, and are offended at the accounts that are given 
of them. Newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, all teem with abuse of the Doctor. 

1 Scots Magazine, 1773, p. 133. 

2 Ib. 1784, p. 685. 

3 Boswell's fohnson, v. 406. 

4 Ib. ii. 305-6. 

' Croker's Correspondence, ii. 34. 
BosweH'sy//w, ii. 306. 
7 //'. ii. 303-5. 


He was received with the most flattering marks of civility by everyone. He was 
looked upon as a kind of miracle, and almost carried about for a show. Those 
who were in his company were silent the moment he spoke, lest they should 
interrupt him, and lose any of the good things he was going to say. He repaid all 
their attention to him with ill-breeding, and when in the company of the ablest 
men in this country, who are certainly his superiors in point of abilities, his whole 
design was to show them how contemptibly he thought of them. Had the Scotch 
been more acquainted with Dr. Johnson's private character they would have 
expected nothing better. A man of illiberal manners and surly disposition, who all 
his life long had been at enmity with the Scotch, takes a sudden resolution of 
travelling amongst them; not, according to his own account, 'to find a people of 
liberal and refined education, but to see wild men and wild manners."" 

The " patriotic Knox," as Boswell calls him, the author of A 
Tour through the Highlands and Hebnde Isles in \ 786, a man 
freer from prejudices than the common run, and one who readily 
acknowledged the merits of Johnson's book, bears equal witness 
to the wrath of his countrymen. 

" Dr. Johnson (he writes) set out under incurable impressions of a national pre- 
judice, a religious prejudice, and a literary jealousy. From a writer of such abilities 
and such prejudices the natives of Scotland had reason to expect a shower of arrows 
without mercy, and it was possibly from this prepossession that they were ready to 
fall upon him as one man the moment that his book appeared. Their minds were 
charged with sentiments of indignity, resentment and revenge, which they did not 
fail to discharge upon his head in whole platoons from every quarter." * 

To us, who know Johnson better than we know any other 
author who has ever lived, the charge of literary jealousy seems 
ridiculous. But Knox lived before Boswell's Life was published. 
Scotland, in which learning and even literature had slumbered for 
nearly a century, had started up from her long sleep, and was bent 
on turning the Auld Reekie into the Modern Athens. All her 
geese were swans, though of swans she had at this season a fair 
flock. " Edinburgh is a hotbed of genius," wrote Smollett, shortly 
before Johnson's visit, and as a proof of it he instanced among 
" authors of the first distinction," Wallace, Blair, Wilkie, and Fer- 
guson. Hume still earlier had proclaimed that at last there was 

1 Letters from Edinburgh, 1774-5, London, so candid is the author amidst his errors, that it 

1776, published without a name, but written by is hard to say whether he is more erroneous 

Captain Edward Topham, pp. 137-140. Arnot, when he speaks in praise or censure of the 

in his History of Edinburgh, p. 361, after ridi- Scottish nation." It is possible and perhaps 

culing Topham's statement, that golf is played probable that he has exaggerated the ill-will 

on the top of Arthur's Seat, continues : " These against Johnson. The passage which he puts in 

letters are written with spirit and impartiality. quotation marks is not in \\vtjourney. 
But the facts and criticisms contained in them - Knox's Tour, p. Ixvii. 

are for the most part equally ill-founded. Yet 


"a hope of seeing good tragedies in the English language," for 
Johnny Home had written his Douglas. Wilkie of the Epigoniad, 
the ercat historian held, was to be the Homer, and Blacklock the 


Pindar, of Scotland. 1 But it was in Ossian Macpherson that the 
hopes of the country had at one time soared highest. By Dr. 
Blair, the Edinburgh Professor of Rhetoric, he had been ranked 
with Homer and Virgil. 2 The national pride, the honour of Scot- 
land, was concerned, and the meanest motive was attributed to the 
man who had ventured to pronounce his poems an impudent for- 
gery. Macpherson was a dangerous enemy. Against " the 
menaces of a ruffian " a thick cudgel might avail ; but the secret 
arts of a literary forger were not so easily baffled. His position 
was one of great power, for from the Court he received a pension 
at first of ^600 a year, and afterwards of ^800, " to supervise the 
newspapers. He inserted what lies he pleased, and prevented 
whatever he disapproved of being printed. " : It was from this 
tainted source that no doubt sprang many of " the miserable cavil- 
lings against the fourney in newspapers, magazines, and other fugi- 
tive pieces." These, as Boswell tells us, "only furnished Johnson 
with sport." Nevertheless, though they did not trouble his mind, 
they marred the fame of his book, and prejudiced not only the im- 
mediate, but even the traditional judgment of Scotland. Enough 
dirt was thrown, and some of it did stick and sticks still. Lies 
were sent wandering through the land, and some of them have not 
even yet found their everlasting rest. One disgusting story, not un- 
worthy of the inventive genius of Ossian himself, is still a solace to 
Scots of the baser sort. That it is a lie can be plainly proved, for 
it rests on a supposed constant suspicion in Johnson of the food 
provided for him. Now we know from his own writings that only 
twice in his tour had he " found any reason to complain of a Scot- 
tish table." ; Moreover, in his letters to Mrs. Thrale and in Bos- 
well's Journal, we can follow his course with great accuracy and 
minuteness. Had there been any foundation for this lie it must be 
found on the road between Inverness and the seashore. Now we 
know what meals he had at each station. Even in the miserable 
inn at Glenelg, where his accommodation was at its worst, if he had 
chosen he could have had mutton chops and freshly-killed poultry. 

' Burton's Life of Hume, ii. 31. * Boswell'syi)/;;wo;/, i. 396. 

' Walpole's_/<wr;i<i/(j/V/j6' Reign of George III. (ed. 1859), ii. 17, 483. 
4 Boswell'syy/(tt>, ii. 307. J Johnson's Works, ix. 19. 


Finding both too tough, lie supped on a lemon and a piece of 

The attacks of the angry critics, published as they were in fugi- 
tive pieces, might have been forgotten had they not been revived 
three or four years later in " a scurrilous volume," as Boswell justly 
describes it, " larger than Johnson's own, filled with malignant 
abuse under a name real or fictitious of some low man in an obscure 
corner of Scotland, though supposed to be the work of another 
Scotchman, who has found means to make himself well known both 
in Scotland and England." The " low man " was the Rev. Donald 
M'Nicol, and the "obscure corner" that long and pleasant island 
of Lismore which the steamers skirt every summer day as they 
pass with their load of tourists between Oban and the entrance of 
the Caledonian Canal. M'Nicol's predecessor in the manse was the 
Rev. John Macaulay, whose famous grandson, Lord Macaulay, was 
to rebuke those " foolish and ignorant Scotchmen, who moved to 
anger by a little unpalatable truth which was mingled with much 
eulogy in $RK.Joumtey to the Western Islands, assailed him whom they 
chose to consider as the enemy of their country with libels much 
more dishonourable to their country than anything that he had ever 
said or written. '" J When Johnson was shown M'Nicol's book he said : 
" This fellow must be a blockhead. They don't know how to go 
about their abuse. Who will read a five shilling book against me ? 
No, Sir, if they had wit, they should have kept pelting me with 
pamphlets." The book, however, seems to have been widely read, 
and in the year 1817 was reprinted at Glasgow in a fine large type. 
A Scotch gentleman recently told me that he fears that to many of his 
countrymen Johnson's tour is only known through M'Nicol's attack. 

It was Macpherson at whom Boswell aimed a blow when he 
wrote of the " other Scotchman whose work it was supposed to be." 
If Ossian had no hand in it himself, it was certainly written by 
someone fired with all his hatred of the man who had branded him 
as a forger. Johnson is described as " a man of some reputation 
for letters, whose master-passion was hatred of Scotland. When 
the Poems of Ossian were published, and became the delight and 
admiration of the learned over all Europe, his cynical disposition 
instantly took the alarm." 3 It was from this time that " we may 

1 Boswell \John son, ii. 308. 3 Remarks on Dr. Johnson's Journey to the 

* Macaulay's Miscellaneous Writings, eu. Hebrides, pp. 263-7. 
1871, p. 390. 



date the origin of his intended tour to Scotland " It was from 
malice that he started so late in the year-a malice, by the way, 
which nearly brought him to a watery grave. " It was not beaut, 
he went to find out in Scotland, but defects ; and for the northern 
situation of the Hebrides the advanced time of the year suited his 
purpose best." ' Johnson, with a discretion which other travellers 
in like circumstances would do well to imitate, had passed over 
Edinburgh with the remark that it is " a city too well known to 
admit description." This wise reticence is twisted into a proof 
of malevolence. So, too, is the brevity with which he mentions 
Dundee "We stopped awhile at Dundee," he recorded, "whei 
I remember nothing remarkable." Surely this is a very innocent 
sentence Even Boswell, whose record was generally far fuller, 
dismisses this place with three words. "We saw Dundee, ' he 
says a But M'Nicol at once discovered the miserable jealousy ot 
the Englishman. " He passes very rapidly through the town of 
Dundee, for fear, I suppose, of being obliged to take notice of its 
increasing trade." ' How delicately Johnson treated this town in 
his published narrative is shown by his description of it in his 
private letter to Mrs. Thrale. To her he had written: 
came to Dundee, a dirty despicable town." 8 Much as M'Nicol be- 
laboured Johnson, he could not refrain from claiming him as ot 
Scotch origin. " We are much deceived by fame," he wrote, " 
very near ancestor of his, who was a native of that country, did not 
find to his cost that a tree was not quite such a rarity in his days. 
This mysterious hero of the gallows was no doubt no Johnson at 
all, but a Johnston of Ardnamurchan, probably, or of Glencroe. 

' M'Nicol is ingenious in his treatment of the great Ossian con- 
troversy. "The poems," he says, " must be the production either 
of Ossian or Mr. Macphcrson. Dr. Johnson does not vouchsafe to 
tell us who else was the author, and consequently the national 
claim remains perfectly entire. The moment Mr. Macpherson 
ceases to be admitted as a translator, he instantly acquires a title to 
the original." 8 Granted that he was a ruffian who had tried by 
menaces to hinder the detection of a cheat. What of that ? 
was a great original ruffian, and his cheat was a work of great 

' Remark, on Dr. Johnson's Jo,,rncy to the 
Hebrides, p. 270. 

Johnson's W,, ix. 8. ^ ^ /' '" 5 fi6 

* Boswell's/'^''. v. 71. * M'tocol, p. 266. 


M'Nicol, p. 287. 


original genius. So that Caledonia, if she had one forger the more, 
had not one poet the less. She made up in genius what she lost in 
character. But this Dr. Johnson failed to see, being, poor man, 
"naturally pompous and vain, and ridiculously ambitious of an ex- 
clusive reputation in letters." It must have been this same pom- 


posity, vanity, and ambition which led him to say of these poems : 
" Sir, a man might write such stuff for ever, if he would abandon 
his mind to it." ' 

That Johnson's narrative should have roused resentment is not 
surprising. Even his friend Beattie, " much as he loved and 
revered him," yet found in it " some asperities that seem to be the 
effect of national prejudice." 2 That " this true-born Englishman," 
as Boswell delights to call him, should have given a wholly unpre- 

' Boswell's fo/inson, iv. 183. 

" Ib. ii. 435, ii. I, and Forbes's Life of Beattie, p. 218. 


judiced account of any country not his own was an impossibility. 
As regards Scotland, the position which he took certainly admitted 
of justification. " When I find," he said, " a Scotchman to whom an 
Englishman is asa Scotchman, thatScotchman shall be as an English- 
man to me." ' Boswell, and perhaps Boswell alone, exactly answered 
this requirement, and the two men were fast friends. For many other 
Scotchmen, indeed, he had strong feelings of regard, and even of 
friendship for Andrew Millar the bookseller, for William Strahan 
the printer, for Blair, Beattie, John Campbell, Hailes, and Robert- 
son, among authors, and for his poor assistants in the great work of 
his Dictionary, who all came from across the Tweed. There was 
no want of individual affection, no John Bull disinclination that had 
to be overcome in the case of each fresh acquaintance which he 
made. His "was a prejudice of the head and not of the heart." 
He held that the Scotch, with that clannishness which is found in 
almost equal strength in the outlying parts of the whole island, 
in Cornwall and in Cumberland, achieved for themselves in England 
"a success which rather exceeded the due proportion of their real 
merit." '' Jesting with a friend from Ireland, who feared "he 
might treat the people of that country more unfavourably than he 
had done the Scotch," he answered, " Sir, you have no reason to 
be afraid of me. The Irish are not in a conspiracy to cheat the 
world by false representations of the merits of their countrymen. 
No, Sir : the Irish are * fair people ;ti\v] never speak well of one 
another." ' To Boswell he began a letter, not meant, of course, for 
the public eye, by saying : " Knowing as you do the disposition 
of your countrymen to tell lies in favour of each other." When he 
came to write \\\sjo2irncy, he was led neither by timidity nor false 
delicacy to conceal what he thought. He attacks that "national 
combination so invidious that their friends cannot defend it," which 
is one of the means whereby Scotchmen " find, or make their way to 
employment, riches, and distinction."" He upbraids that " vigilance 
of jealousy which never goes to sleep," 7 which sometimes led them 
to cross the borders of boastfulness and pass into falsehood, when 
Caledonia was their subject and Englishmen their audience. 
"A Scotchman," he writes, "must be a very sturdy moralist 
who does not love Scotland better than truth ; he will always love 
it better than inquiry." ' Even in his talk when among Scotchmen 

Vs Johnson, ii. 306. - Ib. ii. 301. ' //'. ii. 296. " Works, ix. 158. 

3 Ib. v. 20. ' //'. ii. 307. 7 Il>. p. 154. 3 Ib. p. Il6. 


he was inclined " to expatiate rather too strongly upon the benefits 
derived to their country from the Union." 1 ' "'We have taught 
you,' said he, 'and we'll do the same in time to all barbarous 
nations, to the Cherokees, and at last to the Ouran-Outangs,' 
laughing with as much glee as if Monboddo had been present. 
BOSWELL. 'We had wine before the Union.' JOHNSON. 'No, Sir; 
you had some weak stuff, the refuse of France, which would not 
make you drunk.' BOSWELL. ' I assure you, Sir, there was a great 
deal of drunkenness.' JOHNSON. ' No, Sir ; there were people who 
died of dropsies, which they contracted in trying to get drunk.' " 2 

Such pleasantry as this could hardly have given offence to any- 
one into whose skull a jest could penetrate by any operation short 
of a surgical one. But it was a very different matter when the 
spoken jest passed into a serious expression of opinion in print. 
All the theoretic philosophy of which Scotland justly boasts was 
hardly sufficient to support with patience such a passage as the 
following : ' Till the Union made the Scots acquainted with Eng- 
lish manners the culture of their lands was unskilful, and thetr 
domestic life unformed ; their tables were coarse as the feasts of 
Esquimaux, and their houses filthy as the cottages of Hottentots. " :: 
His attacks on the Highlanders would have been read with patience, 
if not with pleasure, in Lowland circles. "His account of the 
Isles," wrote Beattie, " is, I dare say, very just. I never was 
there." These were not the "asperities " of which that amiable 
poet complained. Yet they were asperities which might have pro- 
voked an incensed Highlander to give the author " a crack on his 
skull," had he looked not to the general tenour of the narrative, but 
to a few rough passages scattered up and down. M'Nicol would 
surely have roused the anger of his countrymen to a fiercer heat had 
he forborne to falsify Johnson's words, and strung together instead 
a row of his sarcastic sayings. The offensive passages are not in- 
deed numerous, but out of such a collection as the following irrita- 
tion enough might have been provided : " the genuine improvi- 
dence of savages ; " '' " a muddy mixture of pride and ignorance ; " " 
" the chiefs gradually degenerating from patriarchal rulers to rapa- 

^ Boswell's Johnson, v. 128. = Ib. v . 248. hut the first Lord Lyltclton who was meant. See 

Works, ix. 24. Hottentot "a respectable my J),: Johnson : His Friends ami //is Cri/ics, 

ttentot was the term which for more than p. 214, and my edition of Boswell's Johnson, 

a hundred years was supposed to have been i. 267. 

applied to Johnson by Lord Chesterfield. I J Forbes's Life of Beattie, p. 217. 

have proved, however, that it was not Johnson, ' Works, ix. 76. u Ib. p. 86. 


clous landlords ; " ' " the animating rabble " - by which of old a chief 
was attended ; " the rude speech of a barbarous people ; " ' " the 
laxity of their conversation, by which the inquirer, by a kind of in- 
tellectual retrogradation, knows less as he hears more;" 4 "the 
Caledonian bigotry " which helps " an inaccurate auditor " to believe 
in the genuineness of Ossian/' 

To the sarcasms which had their foundation in Johnson's dislike 
of Presbyterianism Lowlanders and Highlanders were equally ex- 
posed. On Knox and "the ruffians of reformation"" he has no 
mercy. It is true that he maintains that " we read with as little 
emotion the violence of Knox and his followers as the irruptions of 
Alaric and the Goths." 7 But how deeply he was moved Boswell 
shows, where he describes him among the ruins of the once glorious 
magnificence of St. Andrews. " I happened to ask where John 
Knox was buried. Dr. Johnson burst out, ' I hope in the high-way. 
I have been looking at his reformations.' ' The sight of the ruined 
houses of prayer in Skye drew from him the assertion that " the 
malignant influence of Calvinism has blasted ceremony and decency 
together." In another passage he describes the ancient "epide- 
mical enthusiasm compounded of sullen scrupulousness and warlike 
ferocity, which, in a people whom idleness resigned to their own 
thoughts, was long transmitted in its full strength from the old to 
the young." Ul Even for this inveterate ill a cure had at length been 
found. " By trade and intercourse with England it is visibly 

By the passages in which he described the bareness of the 
eastern coast the most irritation was caused. The very hedges 
were of stone, and not a tree was to be seen that was not 
younger than himself. " A tree might be a show in Scotland as a 
horse in Venice." For this he was handled as roughly as Joseph's 
brethren. He was little better than a spy who had come to see 
the nakedness of the land. The Scotchmen of that day could not 
know, as we know now, that " he treated Scotland no worse than he 
did even his best friends, whose characters he used to give as they 
appeared to him both in light and shade. ' He was fond of discri- 

1 Works, ix. 86. 2 lit. many churches to the ground "(South's Sermons, 

3 Ib. p. 112. 4 ib. p. 47. ed. 1823, i. 173). No man upheld the Reformed 

76. p. 115. Church of England more strongly than South. 
Ib. p. 3. Johnson, it should be remarked, ' Works, ix. 6. 

does not write "the ruffians of the Reforma- * BoswelPsyy/;w, v. 61. 

tion." He uses the word as South does, when he 9 Works, ix. 61. "' Ib. p. 4. 

speaks of "those times which had reformed so u Ib. p. 7. 


mination,' said Sir Joshua Reynolds, ' which he could not show 
without pointing out the bad as well as the good in every 
character.' " l If in his narrative he has not spared the shade, every 
fair-minded reader must allow that he has not been sparing of 
the light. John Wesley, who had often travelled over the same 
ground as far as Inverness, on May 18, 1776, recorded in his 
Journal at Aberdeen : " I read over Dr. Johnson's Tour to the 
Western Isles. It is a very curious book, wrote with admirable 
sense, and, I think, great fidelity; although in some respects he is 
thought to bear hard on the nation, which I am satisfied he never 
intended." : 

That Johnson was not careless of the good opinion of the 
Scotch is shown by his eagerness to learn what Boswell had to tell 
him about the book. " Let me know as fast as you read it how 
you like it ; and let me know if any mistake is committed, or any- 
thing important left out." A week later he wrote : " I long to 
hear how you like the book ; it is, I think, much liked here." The 
modesty of the closing passage of his narrative should have clone 
something towards disarming criticism. " Having passed my time 
almost wholly in cities, I may have been surprised by modes of 
life and appearances of nature that are familiar to men of wider 
survey and more varied conversation. Novelty and ignorance 
must always be reciprocal, and I cannot but be conscious that my 
thoughts on national manners are the thoughts of one who has seen 
but little." 4 The compliment which he paid to the society of the 
capital must surely have won some hearts. " I passed some days 
in Edinburgh," he wrote, " with men of learning whose names 
want no advancement from my commemoration, or with women of 
elegance, which perhaps disclaims a pedant's praise."' He never 
'ets slip an opportunity of gracefully acknowledging civilities and 
acts of kindness, or of celebrating worth and learning. As he closed 
his book, so he had opened it with a well-turned compliment. It 
was, he said, Boswell's " acuteness and gaiety of conversation and 
civility of manners which induced him to undertake the journey."' 
He praises the kindness with which he was gratified by the pro- 
fessors of St. Andrews, and " the elegance of lettered hospitality " 
with which he wasentertained. 7 At Aberdeen the same grateful heart 

1 Botwell's_/0/i?u0tt, ii. 306. 3 lioswell's Johnson, ii. 290. 

2 Wesley's Journal, iv. 74. He repeats this ' Works, ix. lt>i. 5 //'. p- 159- 
statement live years later (//>. p. 207). " //'. p. I. ' tt. p. 3. 



is seen. Among the professors he found one whom he had known 
twenty years earlier in London. "Such unexpected renewals of ac- 
quaintance may be numbered among the most pleasing incidents of 
life. The knowledge of one professor soon procured me the notice of 
the rest, and I did notwant any token of regard." l He had the freedom 

of the city conferred upon him. In acknowledging the honour he 
compliments the town at the expense of England, by mentioning a 
circumstance which, he says, " I am afraid I should not have had to 
say of any city south of the Tweed ; I found no petty officer bowing 
for a fee." 3 With Lord Monboddo he was never on friendly 
terms. " I knew that they did not love each other," writes Boswell, 
with a studied softness of expression. Yet Johnson in his narrative 
praises " the magnetism of his conversation." 4 With Lord Auchin- 
leck he had that violent altercation which the unfortunate piety of 
the son forbade the biographer to exhibit for the entertainment of 
the public. Nevertheless, he only mentions his antagonist to com- 
pliment him." If he attacked Presbyterianism, yet to the Presby- 
terian ministers in the Hebrides he was unsparing of his praise. 
He celebrates their learning, which was the more admirable as they 
were men " who had no motive to study but generous curiosity or 
desire of usefulness." " However much he differed from " the learned 
Mr. Macqueen" about Ossian, yet he admits that " his knowledge and 
politeness give him a title equally to kindness and respect." 7 With 

1 Works, p. ii. 2 See Appendix. ' Ib. pp. 30, 159. 6 Hi. p. 102. 

3 Works, p. 14. 4 Ib. p. 10. 7 Ib. p. 54. 


the aged minister of Col he had a wrangle over Bayle, and Clarke, 
and Leibnitz. " Had he been softer with this venerable old man," 
writes Boswell, " we might have had more conversation." ' This 
rebuke Johnson read in Boswell's manuscript. The amends which 
he makes is surely ample. He describes the minister's " look of 
venerable dignity, excelling what I remember in any other man. I 
lost some of his goodwill by treating a heretical writer with more 
regard than in his opinion a heretic could deserve. I honoured 
his orthodoxy, and did not much censure his asperity. A man 
who has settled his opinions does not love to have the tranquillity 
of his conviction disturbed ; and at seventy-seven it is time to be 
in earnest." 

The people he praises no less than their ministers. " Civility," 
he says, "seems part of the national character of Highlanders. 
Every chieftain is a monarch, and politeness, the natural product 
of royal government, is diffused from the Laird through the whole 
clan. " :t He describes the daughter of the man who kept the hut 
in Glenmorison, where he passed a night. " Her conversation 
like her appearance was gentle and pleasing. We knew that the 
girls of the Highlanders are all gentlewomen, and treated her with 
great respect, which she received as customary and due." 4 He 
praises the general hospitality. " Wherever there is a house the 
stranger finds a welcome. If his good fortune brings him to the 
residence of a gentleman he will be glad of a storm to prolong his 
stay." 5 How graceful is the compliment which he pays to Macleod 
of Rasay ! " Rasay has little that can detain a traveller except the 
Laird and his family ; but their power wants no auxiliaries. Such 
a seat of hospitality amidst the winds and waters fills the imagina- 
tion with a delightful contrariety of images. Without is the rough 
ocean and the rocky land, the beating billows and the howling 
storm ; within is plenty and elegance, beauty and gaiety, the song 
and the dance. In Rasay if I could have found a Ulysses I had 
fancied a Phaeacia.'" 5 To the other branch of the Macleods he is 
no less complimentary. " At Dunvegan I had tasted lotus," he wrote, 
" and was in danger of forgetting that I was ever to depart." 7 He 
met Flora Macdonald, and does not let the occasion pass to pay her 
a high compliment. " Hers is a name that will be mentioned in 
history, and, if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with 

1 Boswell's Johnson, v. 288. J //). p. 32. 5 lb. pp. 50, 97. 

* Works, ix. 118. 3 Ib. p. 25, H, . p. 62. ' Jl>. p. 67. 


honour." 1 In fact, lie rarely introduces in his narrative any living 
person but in way of compliment or acknowledgment. " He 
speaks ill of nobody but Ossian," said Lord Mansfield, Scotchman 
though he was. 2 "There has been of late," he once said, "a 
strange turn in travellers to be displeased." There was no such 
turn in him. From the beginning to the end of his narrative there 
is not a single grumble. In Mull last summer I had the pleasure 
of meeting an old general, a Highlander, who had seen a great 
deal of rough service in the East Indies. Someone in the 
company let drop an unfavourable remark on Johnson. " I lately 
read his Journey? the general replied, " and when I thought of his 
age, his weak health, and the rudeness of the accommodation in 
those old days, I was astonished at finding that he never com- 
plained." In his food he had a relish for what was nice and 
delicate. Yet he records that " he only twice found any reason to 
complain of a Scottish table. He that shall complain of his fare 
in the Hebrides has improved his delicacy more than his man- 
hood." " If an epicure," he says in another passage, "could re- 
move by a wish in quest of sensual gratifications, wherever he had 
supped he would breakfast in Scotland." 5 Boswell, we read, " was 
made uneasy and almost fretful" by their bad accommodation 
in the miserable inn at Glenelg. " Dr. Johnson was calm. I said 
he was so from vanity. JOHNSON. ' No, Sir, it is from philoso- 
phy.' ' The same philosophy accompanied him not 'only through 
his journey, but through his letters and his narrative. Nearly five 
weeks after he had left Edinburgh he wrote to Mrs. Thrale : 
" The hill Rattiken and the inn at Glenelg were the only things of 
which we or travellers yet more delicate could find any pretensions 
to complain." 7 Yet he was by no means free from bodily troubles, 
as his letters show. He was " miserably deaf," he wrote at one time, 
and was still suffering from the remains of inflammation in the eye, 
he wrote at another time. His nerves seemed to be growing weaker. 
The climate, he thought, " perhaps not within his degree of healthy 
latitude." ' The climate, indeed, had been at its worst. In all 
September he had only one day and a half of fair weather, and in 
October perhaps not more. 9 Kept indoors as he was by the rain, 
he often suffered under the additional discomfort of bad accommo- 

1 Works, p. 63. 

'' Bos well 's_/tf//.r<j, ii. 318. 

* Ib. iii. 236. 

4 Works, ix. 19, 51 

5 //'. p. 52. 

6 Boswell'syo/wjw/, v. 146. 

7 Piozzi Letters, i. 137. 
" It. pp. 127, 165. 

Ib. p. 182. 


elation. Two nights he passed in wretched huts ; one in a barn ; 
two in the miserable cabin of a small trading-ship; one in a room 
where the floor was mire. Even in some of the better houses he 
had not always a chamber to himself at night, while in the daytime 
privacy and quiet were not to be enjoyed. At Corrichatachin, 
where he twice made a stay, " we had," writes Boswell, " no rooms 
that we could command ; for the good people had no notion that a 
man could have any occasion but for a mere sleeping place; so, 
during the day, the bed-chambers were common to all the house. 
Servants eat in Dr. Johnson's, and mine was a kind of general 
rendezvous of all under the roof, children and clogs not excepted." l 

He not only passes over in silence the weariness and discom- 
forts of his tour, but he understates the risks which he ran. On 
that dark and stormy October night, when the frail vessel in which 
he had embarked was driven far out of its course to Col, he was in 
great danger. " ' Thank God, we are safe ! ' cried the young Laird, 
as at last they spied the harbour of Lochiern." 1 This scene of 
peril, of which Boswell gives a spirited description, is dismissed by 
Johnson in his letter to Mrs. Thrale in a few words: "A violent 
gust, which Bos. had a great mind to call a tempest, forced us 
into Col, an obscure island." 3 In his narrative, if he makes a little 
more of it, he does so, it seems, only for the sake of paying a com- 
pliment to the seamanship of Maclean of Col. 4 It was this stormy 
night, especially, that was in Sir Walter Scott's mind when he 
described " the whole expedition as being highly perilous, con- 
sidering the season of the year, the precarious chance of getting 
seaworthy boats, and the ignorance of the Hebrideans, who are 
very careless and unskilful sailors." 5 

If votive offerings have been made to the God of storms by 
those who have escaped the perils of the deep, surely some tall 
column might well be raised on the entrance to Lochiern by the 
gratitude of the readers of the immortal Life. Had the ship been 
overwhelmed, not only the hero, but his biographer, would have 
perished. One more great man would have been added to the sad 
long list of those of whom the poet sang : 

" Omnes illacrimabiles 
Urguentur, ignotique longa 
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro." 

1 Bosvvell's/tf//jH, v. 262. 2 II). v. 283. 4 Works, ix. 117. 

3 Piozzi Letters, i. 167. 5 BosweU's./b/j.n>, v. 283, a. I. 


" In endless night they sleep unwept, unknown, 
No bard had they to make all time their own." ' 

By the men of Johnson's time the journey was looked upon as one 
of real adventure. When Boswell visited Voltaire at Ferney, 
and mentioned their design of taking this tour, "he looked at him 
as if he had talked of going to the North Pole, and said, 'You do 
not insist on my accompanying you ? ' ' No, Sir.' ' Then I am 
very willing you should go.'" Dr. Percy, of the Rcliqucs, wrote 
from Alnwick Castle that a gentleman who had lately returned 
from the Hebrides, had told him that the two travellers were 
detained prisoners in Skye, their return having been intercepted 
by the torrents. " Sir Alexander Macdonald and his lady," Percy 
adds, " at whose house our friend Johnson is a captive, had made 
their escape before the floods cut off their retreat ; so that possibly 
we may not see our friend till next summer releases him." 3 A 
Glasgow newspaper gave much the same report, but attributed his 
delay to the clanger of crossing in the late autumn "such a stormy 
surge in a small boat." On the Island of Col they were indeed 
storm-bound for eleven days. " On the travellers' return to 
Edinburgh," writes Boswell, " everybody had accosted us with 
some studied compliment. Dr. Johnson said, 'I am really ashamed 
of the congratulations which we receive. We are addressed as if 
we had made a voyage to Nova Zembla, and suffered five persecu- 
tions in Japan.'" 5 Dr. Robertson "had advanced to him repeating 
a line of Virgil, which I forget," Boswell adds. " I suppose either, 

Post varies casus, per tot discrimiiia renting 

multum ilk et tern's jactatus et altol' 

Johnson afterwards remarked that to see a man come up with a 
formal air and a Latin line, when we had no fatigue and no danger, 
was provoking." Of exaggeration he had always a strong hatred, 
and would not allow it in his own case any more than in another's. 
He had undergone great fatigue, and he had been in real danger, 
but of both he made light. It was in high spirits that he returned 
home after his tour of a hundred days. " I came home last night," 
he wrote to Boswell, "and am ready to begin a new journey." 1 

1 Francis's Horace, Odes, IV. ix. 26. '' "Through various hazards ami events we 
'* Bosweirsya4tt>, v. 14. move." Dryden, sEneid, i. 204. 

3 From tlie original, in the possession of Mr. 7 " Long labours both by sea and land he 
W. R. Smith, of Greatham Moor, West Liss. bore." Ib. i. 3. 

4 BosweH's^/b^TWff, v. 344. ' //>. 392. ^ Bos\veH's_/i?////.>w/, ii. 268. 


He had fulfilled his long-cherished wish, and no wonder his spirits 
were high. His father, the old Lichfield bookseller, had put into 
his hands when he was very young Martin's Description of the 
Western Islands, and had thus roused his youthful fancy. 1 His 
longing to visit the wild scenes of which he had read in his child- 
hood would in all likelihood have remained ungratined, had it not 
been for Boswell. He had known that lively young gentleman 
but a very few weeks, when, over supper "in a private room at the 
Turk's Head Coffee-house in the Strand," he promised to accom- 
pany him to the Hebrides. 2 Ten years elapsed before the promise 
was fulfilled. " I cannot but laugh," he said at Armidale in Skye, 
" to think of myself roving among the Hebrides at sixty. 3 I 


wonder where I shall rove at four-score." 4 To Mrs. Thrale 
soon after his birthday he wrote : " You remember the Doge of 
Genoa, who being asked what struck him most at the French 
Court, answered, ' Myself.' I cannot think many things here more 
likely to affect the fancy, than to see Johnson ending his sixty- 
fourth year in the wilderness of the Hebrides." 5 " Little did I 
once think," he wrote another day, " of seeing this region of 
obscurity, and little did you once expect a salutation from this 
verge of European life. I have now the pleasure of going where 
nobody goes, and seeing what nobody sees." ' So close to this 
verge did Mrs. Thrale suppose he was, that she thought that he 
was in sight of Iceland. 7 She and his friends of the Mitre or 
the Literary Club would have been astonished could they have 

1 Boswell'syi7/;H.tD, i. 450. 
3 He was sixty-four. 

, v. 278. 

' PiozU Letters, \. 1 58. 
7 Ib. i. 188. 

Ib. i. 120. 


seen him that ni^ht in Col when " he strutted about the room with 


a broad-sword anil target," and that other night when Boswell 
" put a large blue bonnet on the top of his bushy grey wig." ' 

The motives which led him on his adventurous journey were 
not those which every summer and autumn bring travellers in 
swarms, not only from England, but from the mainland of Europe, 
from across the wide Atlantic, from India, from Southern Africa, 
from Australia and New Zealand to these Highlands of poetry and 
romance. " I got," he said, " an acquisition of more ideas by my 
tour than by anything that I remember. I saw quite a different 
system of life." 1 It was life, not scenery, which he went to study. 
On his return to the south of Scotland he was asked " how he 
liked the Highlands. The question seemed to irritate him, for he 
answered, ' How, Sir, can you ask me what obliges me to speak 
unfavourably of a country where I have been hospitably enter- 
tained ? Who can like the Highlands ? I like the inhabitants 
very well.' ' The love of wild scenery was in truth only beginning 
as his life was drawing to its close. " It is but of late," wrote 
Pennant in 17/2, "that the North Britons became sensible of the 
beauties of their country ; but their search is at present amply 
rewarded. Very lately a cataract of uncommon height was dis- 
covered on the Bruar." ' Fifteen years later Burns, in his Humble 
Petition of Brtiar Water, shows that the discovery had been fol- 
lowed up : 

" Here haply too at vernal dawn 
Some musing Bard may stray, 

And eye the smoking dewy lawn 
And misty mountain grey." 

But in the year 1773 Johnson could say without much, if indeed 
any exaggeration, that " to the southern inhabitants of Scotland 
the state of the mountains and the islands is equally unknown 
with that of Borneo and Sumatra ; of both they have only heard a 
little and guess the rest." 3 Staffa had been just discovered by Sir 
Joseph Banks. It seems almost passing belief, but yet it is 
strictly true, that Staffa Staffa, as one of the wonders of creation 
was unknown till the eve of Johnson's visit to the Hebrides. 
The neighbouring islanders of course had seen it, but had seen it 
without curiosity or emotion. They were like the impassive 

1 Boswell's>/5w, v. 324. ' Tour in Scotland (ed. 1776), ii. 59. The 

1 Ib. iv. 199. Bruar is near Blair-Athole. 

3 Ib. v. 377. ' Johnson's Works, ix. 84. 


Frenchman who lived in Paris throughout the whole of the Reign 
of Terror, and did not notice that anything remarkable went on. 
It was on August 12, 1 772, a day which should for ever be famous 
in the annals of discovery, that Banks coming to anchor in the 
Sound of Mull, "was asked ashore" by Mr. Macleane of Drnm- 
nen. At his house he met with one Mr. Leach, an English 
gentleman, who told him that at the distance of about nine leagues 
lay an island, unvisited even by the Highlanders, with pillars on it 
like those of the Giant's Causeway. 1 

No yachtsman as yet threaded his way through the almost 
countless islets of our western seas ; the only sails as yet reflected 
on the unruffled surface of the land-locked firths were the fisher's 
and the trader's. For the sea as yet love was neither felt nor 
affected. There was no gladness in its dark-blue waters. Fifteen 
years were to pass before Byron was born the first of our poets, 
it has been said, who sang the delights of sailing. A ship was still 
" a jail, with the chance of being drowned." No Southerner went 
to the Highlands to hunt, or shoot, or fish. No one sought there a 
purer air. It was after Johnson's tour that an English writer urged 
the citizens of Edinburgh to plant trees in the neighbourhood of 
their town because " the increase of vegetation would purify the 
air, and dispel those putrid and noxious vapours which are 
frequently wafted from the Highlands."' It was on an early day 
of August, in a finer season than had been known for years, that 
Wolfe, the hero of Quebec, complained that neither temperance 
nor exercise could preserve him in any tolerable health in the un- 
friendly climate of Loch Lomond. 1 Of all the changes which have 
come over our country, perhaps none was more unforeseen than the 
growth of this passion for the Highlands and the Hebrides. Could 
Johnson have learnt from some one gifted with prophetic power 
that there were passages in his narrative which would move the 
men of the coming century to scoff, it was not his references to 
scenery which would have roused his suspicion. I have heard a 
Scotchman laugh uproariously over his description of a mountain 
as "a considerable protuberance." He did not know however 
where the passage came, and he admitted that, absurd as it 
was, it was not quite so ridiculous when taken with the context. 

1 Troil's Letters on Iceland (yd ed.), p. 288. a Boswell's Jbftnson, i. 348. 

There is a notice of the discovery in the Gentle- 3 Topham's Letters from Edinburgh, p. 233. 

man's Magazine for 1772, p. 540, and in the * He was stationed there with his regiment. 

Annual Register for the same year, i. 139. Wright's Life of General \Volfe, p. 271. 



" Another mountain," said Hoswell, " I called immense. ' No,' re- 
plied Johnson, ' it is no more than a considerable protuberance.' " l 
It was his hatred of exaggeration and love of accurate language 
which provoked the correction the same hatred and the same love 
which led him at college to check his comrades if they called a 
thing "prodigious." 1 But to us, nursed as we have been and our 
fathers before us in a romantic school, the language of Johnson and 
of his contemporaries about the wild scenes of nature never fails to 
rouse our astonishment and our mirth. Were they to come back 
to earth, I do not know but that at our extravagancies of admira- 
tion and style, our affectations in the tawdry art of " word-painting," 
and at our preference of barren mountains to the meadow-lands, 
and corn-fields, and woods, and orchards, and quiet streams of 
southern England, their strong and manly common sense might 
not fairly raise a still heartier laugh. 

The ordinary reader is apt to attribute to an insensibility to 
beauty in Johnson what, to a great extent, was common to most of 
the men of his time. It is true that for the beauties of nature, 
whether wild or tame, his perception was by no means quick. 
Nevertheless, we find his indifference to barren scenery largely 
shared in by men of poetic temperament. .Even Gray, who looked 
with a poet's eye on the crags and cliffs and torrents by which his 
path wound along as he went up to the Grande Chartreuse, yet, 
early in September, when the heather would be all in bloom, writes 
of crossing in Perthshire " a wide and dismal heath fit for an assem- 
bly of witches." ; Wherever he wandered he loved to find the 
traces of men. It was not desolation, but the earth as the beau- 
tiful home of man that moved him and his fellows. Mentem mor- 
talia tangunt. He found the Apennines not so horrid as the Alps, 
because not only the valleys but even the mountains themselves 
were many of them cultivated within a little of their very tops. 4 
The fifth Earl of Carlisle, a poet though not a Gray, in August, 
1 768, hurried faster even than the post across the Tyrol from 
Verona to Mannheim, "because there was nothing but rest that 
was worth stopping one moment for." The sameness of the 
scenery was wearisome to his lordship, " large rocky mountains, 
covered with fir-trees ; a rapid river in the valley ; the road made 
like a shelf on the side of the hill." He rejoiced when he took his 

1 BosweU's/o/iKW, v. 141. * Ib. iii. 303. 3 Gray's Works, iv. 57. 4 //'. ii. 78. 



leave of the Alps, and came upon " fields very well cultivated, 
valleys with rich verdure, and little woods which almost persuaded 
him he was in England." 

There is a passage in Camden's description of Argyleshire in 
which we find feelings expressed which for the next two centuries 
were very generally entertained. " Along the shore," he writes, 
" the country is more 
unpleasant in sight, 
what with rocks and 
what with blackish 
barren mountains. " : 
One hundred and fifty 
years after this was 
written, an English- 
man, describing in 
1 740 the beautiful 
road which runs along 
the south-eastern 
shore of Loch Ness, 
calls the rugged moun- 
tains " those hideous 
productions of na- 
ture." 3 He pictures 
to himself the terror 
which would come 
upon the Southerner 
who "should be 
brought blindfold into 
some narrow rocky 
hollow, inclosed with 
these horrid prospects, 

and there should have his bandage taken off. He would be ready 
to die with fear, as thinking it impossible he should ever get out to 
return to his native country." 4 This account was very likely read 
by Johnson, for it was published in London only nineteen years 
before he made his tour. In the narrative of a Volunteer in the 
Duke of Cumberland's army, we find the same gloom cast by 

1 George Selwyn and his Contemporaries, ii. * Letters from a Gentleman in the North of 

319. Scotland, ii. 339. 

'* Camden's Description of Scotland (z&. 1695), * Ib. p. 13. 
P- 137- 



mountain scenery on the spirits of Englishmen. The soldiers who 
were encamped near Loch Ness fell sick daily in their minds as 
well as in their bodies from nothing but the sadness produced by 
the sight of the black barren mountains covered with snow, with 
streams of water rolling down them. To divert their melancholy, 
which threatened to develop even into hypochondriacal madness, 
races were held. It was with great joy that the volunteer at last 
" turned his back upon these hideous mountains and the noisy ding 
of the great falls of waters." 

Even the dales of Cumberland struck strangers with awe. 
Six months before Wordsworth was born, Gray wandered up 
Borrowdale to the point where now the long train of tourist-laden 
coaches day after day in summer turns to the right towards 
Honister Pass and Buttermere. " All farther access," he wrote, 
" is here barred to prying mortals, only there is a little path wind- 
ing over the Fells, and for some weeks in the year passable to the 
Dale's-men ; but the mountains know well that these innocent 
people will not reveal the mysteries of their ancient kingdom, the 
reign of Chaos and Old Night." 3 

A few days after Johnson had arrived in Scotland, Mason, the 
poet, visited Keswick. Many of the woods which had charmed 
his friend Gray had been since cut down, and a dry season had 
reduced the cascade to scanty rills. " With the frightful and 
surprising only," he wrote, " I cannot be pleased." 3 He and his 
companion climbed to the summit of Skiddaw, where, just as if 
they were on the top of the Matterhorn, they found that " respira- 
tion seemed to be performed with a kind of asthmatic oppression." 1 
To John Wesley, a traveller such as few men have ever been, wild 
scenery was no more pleasing than to the man who wandered for 
the first time. Those " horrid mountains " he twice calls the fine 
ranges of hills in the North Riding of Yorkshire, whose waters 
feed the Swale and the Tees, though it was in summer-time that 
he was travelling. To Pennant Glencroe was " the seat of melan- 
choly." Beattie, Burns's " sweet harmonious Beattie," finds the 
same sadness in the mountains : 

" The Highlands of Scotland " (he writes) " are a picturesque, but in general a 
melancholy country. Long tracts of mountainous desert, covered with dark heath, 

1 James Ray's History of the Rebellion of 4 An Excursion to the Lakes, p. 157. 
1747 (ed. 1752), pp. 365, 383. 5 \Vesley's/<7/-a/, iii. 336, 465. 

* Gray's Works, iv. 150. G Tour in Scotland, i. 222. 

3 Walpole's Letters, v. 501. 



and often obscured by misty weather ; narrow valleys, thinly inhabited and bounded 
by precipices resounding with the fall of torrents ; a soil so rugged, and a climate so 
dreary, as in many parts to admit neither the amusements of pasturage nor the 
labours of agriculture ; the mournful dashing of waves along the friths and lakes 
that intersect the country; the portentous noises which every change of the wind, 
and every increase and diminution of the waters, is apt to raise in a lonely region 
full of echoes, and rocks, and caverns; the grotesque and ghastly appearance of 
such a landscape by the light of the moon objects like these diffuse a gloom over 
the fancy which may be compatible enough with occasional and social merriment, 
but cannot foil to tincture the thoughts of a native in the hour of silence and 
solitude." ' 

The French writer, Faujas de Saint Fond, who visited the 
Highlands about the year 1780, was touched with the same un ro- 
mantic gloom. When on his way from the barren mountains of 
the north he reached the fertile southern shore of Loch Tay, and 
caught the first glimpse of the change to happier climes, his soul 
experienced as sweet a joy as is given by the first breath of spring. 
He had escaped from a land where winter seemed eternally to reign, 
where all was wild, and barren, and sad. 2 Even Macleod of Mac- 
leod, the proprietor of nine inhabited isles and of islands uninha- 
bited almost beyond number, who held four times as much land as 
the Duke of Bedford, even that "mighty monarch," as Johnson called 
him," looked upon life in his castle at Dunvegan as " confinement in 
a remote corner of the world," and upon the Western Islands as 
" dreary regions." ' Slight, then, must have been the shock which 
Johnson gave even to the poets among his fellows, when on " a de- 
lightful day " in April, he set Fleet Street with its "cheerful scene" 
above Tempe, and far above Mull. 5 To the men of his time rocks 
would have " towered in horrid nakedness," and " wandering in 
Skye " would have seemed " a toilsome drudgery." 7 Nature there 
would have looked " naked," and these poverty-stricken regions 
" malignant." ' Few would have been " the allurements of these 
islands," for "desolation and penury" would have given as "little 
pleasure" to them as it did to him." In Glencroe they would have 
found " a black and dreary region," 10 and in Mull "a gloomy deso- 
lation." u Everywhere " they would have been repelled by the 
wide extent of hopeless sterility," 12 and everywhere fatigued by the 

ssays on Poetry cinil Alusic, p. 169. Johnson's IVorks, ix. 25. 

2 Voyage en AngUterre, etc., ii. 201. ' riozzi Letters, i. 138. 

3 Piozzi Letters, \. 154, anil ftosvie\\'& Johnson, * ll'ar/cs, ix. 78, 153. 

. 231. J/,. p . ,53. 10 //,. p. ,56. 

4 Croker's Bonydl((i&. 1835), iv. 327. " Il>. p. 150. '" //>. p. 35. 
'' I3osweirs_/o/;i0, iii. 302. 


want of " variety in universal barrenness."' In the midst of such 
scenes, as the autumn day was darkening to its close, they would 
have allowed that, " when there is a guide whose conduct may be 
trusted, a mind not naturally too much disposed to fear, may pre- 
serve some degree of cheerfulness ; but what," they would have 
asked, " must be the solicitude of him who should be wandering 
among the crags and hollows benighted, ignorant, and alone ?" : 
Upon the islets on Loch Lomond they would have longed "to 
employ all the arts of embellishment," so that these little spots 
should no longer " court the gazer at a distance, but disgust him at 
his approach, when he finds instead of soft lawns and shady thickets 
nothing more than uncultivated ruggeclness." : Everywhere they 
would have regretted the want of the arts and civilization and 
refinements of modern life. 

Had Johnson been treated more kindly by the weather, doubt- 
less the gloom of the landscape would have been less reflected upon 
his pages. Fifty-eight days of rain to three days of clear skies 
would have been sufficient to depress even the wildest worshipper 
of rude nature. In the eleven days in which he was kept prisoner 
by storms in Col, he had " no succession of sunshine to rain, or of 
calms to tempests; wind and rain were the only weather." 4 When 
the sun did shine he lets us catch a little of its cheerful light. His 
first day's Highland journey took him along the shore of Loch 
Ness in weather that was bright, though not hot. " The way was 
very pleasant ; on the left were high and steep rocks, shaded with 
birch, and covered with fern or heath. On the right the limpid 
waters of Loch Ness were beating their bank, and waving their 
surface by a gentle undulation." 5 The morrow was equally fine. 
How prettily he has described his rest in the valley on the bank, 
where he first thought of writing the story of his tour, " with a clear 
rivulet streaming at his feet. The day was calm, the air was soft, 
and all was rudeness, silence and solitude." Very different would 
have been the tale which he told had he travelled in the days of fast 
and commodious steamboats, good roads and carriages, comfortable 
inns, post-offices, telegraphs, and shops. He would not have seen 
a different system of life, or got an acquisition of ideas, but he 
might have found patience, and even promptings for descriptions of 
the beauties of rugged nature. " In an age when every London 

1 Piozzi Letters, \. 135. Piozzi Letters, i. 169. 

* Works, ix. 73. '> lb. p. 156. ' Works, ix. 25. G Ib. p. 36. 



citizen makes Loch Lomond his wash-pot, and throws his shoe 
over Ben Nevis," ' the old man may easily be mocked for his indif- 
ference to scenery. But the elderly traveller of our times, who 
whirled along " in a well-appointed four-horse coach," indicates the 
beauties of nature to his companions, and utters exclamations of 
delight, as from time to time he takes his cigar from his lips, might 
have felt as little enthusiasm as Johnson, had he had, like him, to 
cross Skye and Mull on horseback, by paths so narrow that each 
rider had to go singly, and so craggy that constant care was 


The scenery in which he took most delight was the park-lands 
of southern and midland England. 

" Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride, 
And brighter streams than fam'd Hydaspes glide. 
There all around the gentlest breezes stray, 
There gentle music melts on every spray ; 
Creation's mildest charms are there combin'd, 
Extremes are only in the master's mind." 2 

" Sweet Auburn " would have been dearer to him than all the wilds 
of the Highlands. But Auburn scenery he did not find even in the 
Lowlands. Had Goldsmith passed his life in Ayrshire or even in 
" pleasant Teviotdale," the Deserted Village would never have been 
written. Burns had never seen an Auburn, nor even that simpler 
rural beauty which was so dear to Wordsworth. No " lovely cot- 
tage in the guardian nook " had " stirred him deeply." He knew 
nothing of the sacredness of 

1 Lockhart's Life of Scott, iii. 239. 

Goldsmith's Traveller, 1. 319. 


" The roses to the porch which they entwine." ' 

In Scotland was seen the reverse of the picture in which Goldsmith 
had painted Italy. 

" In florid beauty groves and fields appear, 

Man seems the only growth that dwindles here." 2 

In Scotland man was nourished to the most stubborn strength of 
character, but beauty was the growth that dwindled. In the hard 
struggle for bare living, and in the gloom of a religion which gave 
strength but crushed loveliness, no man thought of adorning his 
home as if it had been his bride. Wordsworth compared the 
manses in Scotland with the parsonages, even the poor parsonages 
in England, and said that neither they nor their gardens and 
grounds had the same " attractive appearance." ; The English 
country-house, with its lawns, its gardens, and its groves, which 
acids such a singular charm to our landscape, had not its counter- 
part on the other side of the border. Elderly men could 
still recall the day when the approach to the laird's dwelling led 
past the stable and the cow-house, when the dunghill was heaped 
up close to the hall-door, and when, instead of lawns and beds of 
flowers, all around grew a plentiful crop of nettles, docks, and hem- 
locks. 1 Some improvement had been already made. A taste had 
happily begun for " neat houses and ornamental fields," and to the 
hopeful patriot there was " the pleasing prospect that Scotland might 
in a century or sooner compare with England, not indeed in mag- 
nificence of country-seats, but in sweetness and variety of concor- 
dant parts. " ; Even at that time it supplied England with its best 
gardeners, 6 and nevertheless it was a country singularly bare of 
gardens. " Pray, now, are you ever able to bring the sloe to per- 
fection?" asked Johnson of Bosvvell. 7 So far was nature from 
being adorned that she had been everywhere stripped naked. 
Woods had been cut down, not even had groups of trees been 
spared, no solitary oak or elm with its grateful shade stood in the 
middle of the field or in the hedge-row ; hedge-rows there were 
none. The pleasantness of the prospect had been everywhere sac- 
rificed to the productiveness of the field. The beautiful English 

1 Wordsworth's Works, ii. 284. 5 Kames' Sketches of the History of Man, i. 274. 

- The Traveller, 1. 125. s Boswell's Johnson, ii. 77. The superiority 

3 Wordsworth's Works, iv. 99. of the gardeners was most likely due to the 

4 Scotland and Scotchmen in the Eighteenth superiority of the education of the poorer classes. 
Century, ii. 99. ' lb. ii. 78. 


landscape was gone. " The striking characteristic in the views of 
Scotland," said an observant traveller, " is a poverty of landscape 
from a want of objects, particularly of wood. Park scenery is little 
known. The lawn, the clump, and the winding walk are rarely 
found." 1 As he crossed the border he might have said with John- 
son : " It is only seeing a worse England. It is seeing the flower 
gradually fade away to the naked stalk." ; " Every part of the 
country," wrote Goldsmith from Edinburgh in his student days, " pre- 
sents the same dismal landscape. No grove nor brook lend their 
music to cheer the stranger, or make the inhabitants forget their 
poverty." 3 There was none of " the bloomy flush of life." The 
whole country was open, and resembled one vast common with a few 
scattered improvements. 1 Along the western road from Longworth 
to Dumfries it exhibited "a picture of dreary solitude, of smoky 
hovels, naked, ill-cultivated fields, lean cattle and a dejected people, 
without manufactures, trade or shipping." 

The eastern coast, along which Johnson travelled, was singu- 
larly bare of trees. He had not, he said, passed five on the road 
fit for the carpenter. 6 The first forest trees of full growth which he 
saw were in the north of Aberdeenshire. 7 " This is a day of novel- 
ties," he said on the morrow. " I have seen old trees in Scotland, 
and I have heard the English clergy treated with disrespect."" 
Topham, while attacking his Journey to the Western Isles, yet 
admitted that it was only in the parks of a few noblemen that oaks 
were found fifty years old." Lord Jeffrey maintained so late as 
1833 that within a circle of twenty miles from Watford there was 
more old timber than in all Scotland. 10 Burns, in his Humble Peti- 
tion of Bruar Water to the Duke of A thole, testifies to the want of 

trees : 

" Would then my noble master please 

To grant my highest wishes, 
He'll shade my banks wi' tow'ring trees, 

And bonnie spreading bushes." 

There were, of course, noble trees scattered throughout the country. 
Gray describes " the four chestnuts of vast bulk and height in Lord 

1 W. Gilpin's Observations relative to Pic- s Knox's Tour through the Highlands of Scot- 

turcsqtie Reality in the year 1776, i. 117, 123, /ami, p. 5' 

141. (; Piozsi Letters, i. 120. ' Works, ix. 17. 

' Bosweirs_/0//., iii. 248. * Eosv/dl's JtAnson, v. 120. 

3 Forster's LifeofGolJsmith, i. 433. '' Letters from Edinburgh, p. 230. 

4 Gentleman' s Magazine, 1754, p. 119. '" Cockburn's Life of Lord Jeffrey, i. 348. 



Breadalbane's park," ' and Pennant, " the venerable oaks, the vast 
chestnuts, the ash trees, and others of ancient growth, that gave 
solemnity to the scene at Finlarig Castle." : A love of planting, 
which began about the time of the Union, was gradually extending. 
Defoe noticed the young groves round the gentlemen's houses in 
the Lothians, and foretold, that in a few years Scotland would not 
need to send to Norway for timber and deal. 3 The reviewer of 
Pennant's Tour in the Scots Magazine for January, 1772, rejoiced 
to find that the spirit of planting was so generally diffused, and 
looked forward to the advantages arising from it, which would be 
enjoyed by posterity. 4 Sir Walter Scott defended Johnson against 
the abuse which had unjustly been cast on him. The east coast, if 
the young plantations were excepted, was as destitute of wood as 
he had described it/' Nay, to his sarcasms he greatly ascribed that 
love of planting which had almost become a passion .'' It was not 
for nothing, then, that Johnson had joked over the loss of his walk- 
ing-stick in Mull, and had refused to believe that any man in that 
island who had got it would part with it. " Consider, Sir, the value 
of such a piece of timber there." 7 

The modern traveller who, as he passes through the Lothians 
or Aberdeenshire, looks with admiration on farming in its perfec- 
tion, would learn with astonishment how backward Scotch agricul- 
ture was little more than one hundred years ago. While in Eng- 
land men of high rank and strong minds were ambitious of shining 
in the characters of farmers, in Scotland it was looked upon as a 
pursuit far beneath the attention of a gentleman. Neither by the 
learned had it been made a study. 8 There were those who attri- 
buted this general backwardness to the soil and climate ; but it was 
due, said Lord Kames, " to the indolence of the landholders, the 
obstinate indocility of the peasantry, and the stupid attachment 
of both classes to ancient habits and practices." 9 The liberal inter- 
course between the two countries, which was an unexpected result 
of the Rebellion of i 745, greatly quickened the rate of improve- 

" Before that time the people of Northumberland and the Merse, who spoke 
dialects of the same language, and were only separated by a river, had little more 

1 Gray's Works, iv. 59. ' Croker's Boswcll (Svo. ed.), p. 285. 

2 Pennant's Tour in Scotland, ii. 21. " Croker's Correspondence, ii. 34. 

3 Defoe's Tour through Great Britain: Ac- 7 Bos\ve\\'s Johnson, v. 319. 

anint of Scotland, Hi. 15. * Topham's Letters from Edinburgh, p. 366. 

4 Scots Afagazine, 1772, p. 25. " Tytler's Life of Lord Kames, i. 112. 


intercourse than those of Kent and Normandy. After the Rebellion a number of 
noblemen and gentlemen amused themselves with farming in the English style. 
The late Lord Eglinton spared no expense in getting English servants. He showed 
his countrymen what might be done by high cultivation. Mr. Drummond, of Blair, 
sent over one of his ploughmen to learn drill husbandry, and the culture of turnips 
from Lord Eglinton's English servants. The very next year he raised a field of 
turnips, which were the first in the country. And they were as neatly dressed as any 
in Hertfordshire. A single horse ploughing the drills astonished the country people, 
who, till then, had never seen fewer than four yoked. About the year 1771 our 
tenants were well-disposed to the culture of turnips. They begin to have an idea of 
property in winter as well as in summer ; nor is it any longer thought bad neighbour- 
hood to drive off cattle that are trespassing upon their winter crops." ' 

The young Laird of Col, just before Johnson's visit, had gone 
to Hertfordshire to study farming, and had brought back " the cul- 
ture of turnips. His intention is to provide food for his cattle in 
the winter. This innovation was considered by Mr. Macsweyn as 
the idle project of a young head heated with English fancies ; but 
he has now found that turnips will grow, and that hungry sheep and 
cows will really eat them." ; Yet progress was not so rapid but 
that Adam Smith held that a better system could only be intro- 
duced " by a long course of frugality and industry ; half a century 
or a century more perhaps must pass away before the old system 
which is wearing out gradually can be completely abolished." : 

The cultivation of vegetables for the table and of fruits was also 
taking a start, though much remained to be done. When Johnson 
was informed at Aberdeen that Cromwell's soldiers had taught the 
Scotch to raise cabbages, he remarked, that " in the passage through 
villages it seems to him that surveys their gardens, that when they 
had not cabbage they had nothing." ' Pennant, however, the year 
before, in riding from Arbroath to Montrose, had passed by " exten- 
sive fields of potatoes a novelty till within the last twenty years." 5 
It was not till Johnson had travelled beyond Elgin that he saw 
houses with fruit trees about them. " The improvements of the 
Scotch," he remarks, " are for immediate profit ; they do not yet 
think it quite worth their while to plant what will not produce some- 
thing to be eaten or sold in a very little time." " The Scotch his- 
torian of Edinburgh complained that " the apples which were 
brought to market from the neighbourhood were unfit for the table." 7 
" Good apples are not to be seen," wrote Topham in his Letters 

1 Scotland and Scotchmen of the Eighteenth 4 Pioxi Letters, i. 116. 

Century, ii. 212, 227, 228, 231, 272, 277. ' Pennant's Tour in Scotland, ii. 138. 

2 Johnson's Works, ix. 121. 6 Piozzi Letters, i. 121. 

3 Wealth of Nations, i. 309. 7 Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 347. 


from Edinburgh. " It was," he said, " owing to the little variety of 
fruit that the inhabitants set anything on their tables after dinner 
that has the appearance of it, and I have often observed at the 
houses of principal people a plate of small turnips introduced in the 
dessert, and eaten with avidity." ' Smollett indirectly alludes to 
this reflection on his native country when, in his Humphry Clinker, 
he says that " turnips make their appearance, not as dessert, but by 
way of hors d'ceuvrcs, or whets." : Even in the present day, the 
English traveller far too often looks in vain for the orchards and 
the fruit tree with its branches trained over the house-wall. Yet 
great progress has been made. In Morayshire, in the present clay, 
peaches and apricots are seen ripening on the garden walls. In the 
year 1852 an Elgin gardener carried off the first prize of the London 
Horticultural Society for ten varieties of the finest new dessert 
pears. 3 If Scotland can do such great things as this, surely justifi- 
cation is found for the reproaches cast by Johnson on Scottish 
ignorance and negligence. 

So closely have the two countries in late years been drawn 
together by the wonderful facilities of intercourse afforded by 
modern inventions, that it is scarcely possible for us to understand 
the feelings of our adventurous forefathers as they crossed the 
Borders. At the first step they seemed to be in a foreign country. 
" The first town we come to," wrote Defoe, " is as perfectly Scots 
as if you were one hundred miles north of Edinburgh ; nor is there 
the least appearance of anything English either in customs, habits, 
usages of the people, or in their way of living, eating, dress, or 
behaviour." 4 " The English," Smollett complained, " knew as 
little of Scotland as of Japan." 5 There is no reason to think that 
he was guilty of extravagance, when in his Humphry Clinker he 
makes Miss Tabitha Bramble, the sister of the Gloucestershire 
squire, imagine that " she could not go to Scotland but by sea." 6 
It is amazing to how late a day ignorance almost as gross as this 
came down. It was in the year in w.hich George II. came to the 
throne that Defoe, in his preface to his Tour through Great Britain 
wrote : " Scotland has been supposed by some to be so contemptible 
a place as that it would not bear a description." 7 Eleven years 

1 Letters from Edinburgh, p. 229. "" Humphry Clinker, ii. 212. 

2 Humphry Clinker, ii. 233. Ib. 

3 E. D. Dunbar's Social Life, ii. 147. 7 Defoe's Tour through Great Britain, vol. iii. 

4 Defoe's Tour through Great Britain : Ac- p. vii. 
count of Scotland, vol. iii. p. 6. 


later, in 1738, we find it described much as if it were some lately 
discovered island in the South Seas. 

" The people in general," we read, " are naturally inclined to civility, especially 
to strangers. They are divided into Highlanders who call themselves the antient 
Scots, and into Lowlanders who are a mixture of antient Scots, Picts, Britons, French, 
English, Danes, Germans, Hungarians, and others. Buchanan describes the 
customs of the Highlanders graphically thus : ' In their diet, apparel, and household 
furniture they follow the parsimony of the antients ; they provide their diet by fishing 
and hunting, and boil their flesh in the paunch or skin of a beast ; while they hunt 
they eat it raw, after having squeezed out the blood.' . . . The Western Islands 
(the author goes on to add) lie in the Deucaledonian Sea. . . . The natives of Mull 
when the season is moist take a large dose of aqua-vita; for a corrective, and chew a 
piece of channel root when they intend to be merry to prevent drunkenness. The 
natives of Skye have a peculiar way of curing the distempers they are incident to by 
simples of their own product, in which they are successful to a miracle." ' 

Into so strange and wild a country it required a stout heart to 
enter. A volunteer with the English army at the time of the 
Rebellion of 1745 wrote from Berwick : " Now we are going into 
Scotland, but with heavy hearts. They tell us here what terrible 
living we shall have there, which I soon after found too true." : 
How few were the Englishmen who crossed the Tweed even so 
late as 1772 is shown by the hope expressed in the Scots Magazine 
for that year, that the publication of Pennant's Tour would excite 
others to follow in his steps. 3 Two years later Topham wrote 
from Edinburgh that " the common people were astonished to find 
himself and his companion become stationary in their town for a 
whole winter. . . . ' What were we come for ? ' was the first question. 
' They presumed to study physic.' ' No.' ' To study law ? ' ' No.' 
' Then it must be divinity.' ' No.' ' Very odd,' they said, ' that 
we should come to Edinburgh without one of these reasons.'" 4 
How ignorant the English were of Scotland is shown by the 
publication of Humphry Clinker. The ordinary reader, as he 
laughs over the pages of this most humorous of stories, never 
suspects that the author in writing it had any political object in 
view. Yet there is not a little truth in Horace Walpole's bitter 
assertion that it is " a party novel, written by the profligate hireling 
Smollett, to vindicate the Scots, and cry down juries." ; It was 
not so much a party as a patriotic novel. Lord Bute's brief tenure 

1 The Present Slate of Scotland, pp. 39, 42, 3 Scots Magazine, 1772, p. 24. 
112, 114, 119. 4 Letters from Edinburgh, p. 40. 

2 A Journey through part of England and 5 Memoirs of the Reign of George III., iv. 
Scotland with the Army. By a Volunteer. 328. 

^ 53- 


of ignoble office as Prime Minister and Kind's Friend, the mischief 
which he had done to the whole country, and the favour which he 
had shown to his North Britons, a few years earlier had raised a 
storm against the Scotch which had not yet subsided. " All the 
windows of all the inns northwards," wrote Smollett, "are scrawled 
with doggrel rhymes in abuse of the Scotch nation." ' With great art 
he takes that fine old humorist, Matthew Bramble, from his squire's 
house in Gloucestershire on a tour to the southern part of Scotland, 
and makes him and his family send to their various correspondents 
lively and pleasant descriptions of all that they saw. At the very 
time that he was writing his Humphry Clinker a child was born in 
one of the narrow Wynds of Edinburgh who was to take up the 
work which he had begun, and as the mighty Wizard of the North, 
as if by an enchanter's wand, to lift up the mist which had long 
hung over the land which he loved so well, and to throw over 
Highlands and Lowlands alike the beauty of romance and the 
kindliness of feeling which springs from the associations given by 
poetry and fiction. 

While the English as yet knew little of Scotland, the Scotch 
were not equally ignorant of England. From the days of the 
Union they had pressed southwards in the pursuit of wealth, of 
fame, and of position. Their migration was such that it afforded 
some foundation for Johnson's saying that " the noblest prospect 
which a Scotchman ever sees is the high road that leads him to 
England." 1 England was swiftly moving along the road to 
Empire, sometimes with silent foot, sometimes with the tramp of 
war. In America and in the East Indies her boundaries were 
year by year pushed farther and farther on. Her agriculture, her 
manufactures, her trade and her commerce were advancing by 
leaps and bounds. There was a great stir of life and energy. Into 
such a world the young Scotchmen entered with no slight advan- 
tages. In their common schools everywhere an education was 
given such as in England was only to be had in a few highly 
favoured spots. In their universities even the neediest scholar had 
a share. The hard fare, the coarse clothing, and the poor lodgings 
with which their students were contented, could be provided by the 
labours of the vacation. In their homes they had been trained in 

Humphry Clinker, ii. 176. See my edition pp. 56-64, for tlie violence of feeling between 
of Letters of David Hume to William Stra/ian, the English and Scotch at this time. 

w, i. 425. 


habits of thrift. They entered upon the widely extending battle 
of life like highly trained soldiers, and they gained additional force 
by acting together. If they came up " in droves," it was not one 
another that they butted. They exhibited when in a strange land 
that " national combination " which Johnson found " so invidious," 
but which brought them to " employment, riches, and distinction." ' 
Their thrift, and an eagerness to push on which sometimes amounted 
to servility, provoked many a gibe ; but if ever they found time 
and inclination to turn from Johnny Home to Shakespeare they 
might have replied in the words of Ferdinand : 

"Some kinds of baseness 
Are nobly undergone, and most poor matters 
Point to rich ends." 

On the advantages of the Union to Scotland Johnson was not 
easily tired of haranguing. Of the advantages to England he said 
nothing probably because he saw nothing. Yet it would not be 
easy to tell on which side the balance lay. Before the Union, he 
maintained, " the Scotch had hardly any trade, any money, or any 
elegance." : In his Journey to t/ic Western Islands he tells the 
Scotch that " they must be for ever content to owe to the English 
that elegance and culture which, if they had been vigilant and 
active, perhaps the English might have owed to them." 

Smollett, who in national prejudice did not yield even to him, has 
strongly upheld the opposite opinion. In his History\\t describes 
Lord Belhaven's speech against the Union in the last parliament 
which sat in Scotland a speech " so pathetic that it drew tears 
' from the audience. It is," he adds, "at this day looked upon as a 
prophecy by great part of the Scottish nation." ' The towns on 
the Eirth of Eorth, he maintained, through the loss of the trade 
with France, had been falling to decay ever since the two countries 
were united. 5 In these views he was not supported by the two 
great writers who were his countrymen and his contemporaries. 
It was chiefly to the Union that Adam Smith attributed the great 
improvements in agriculture which had been made in the eighteenth 
century. 6 It was to the Union that Hume attributed the blessing 
" of a government perfectly regular, and exempt from all violence 
and injustice." ' Many years later Thomas Carlyle, in whom 

1 Worts, ix. 158. "' Humphry Clinker, iii. 7. 

* Boswell's/^/wtfK, v. 248. u Wealth of Nations, \. 308. 

s Works, ix. 24. ~ Hume's History of England, vii. 438. 

4 Smollett's History of England, ii. 99. 


glowed the perfervidum ingcnium Scotorum as it has glowed in 
few, owned that " the Union was one of Scotland's chief blessings," 
though it was due to Wallace and to men like him "that it was 
not the chief curse." 

It must never be forgotten that in this Union England was no 
less blessed than Scotland ; that if she gave wealth to Scotland, 
Scotland nobly repaid the gift in men. In the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries the English stock had been quickened and 
strengthened and ennobled by fugitives seeking refuge on her 
shores from the persecutions of priests and kings, which passed 
over the coward and the base, and fell only on the brave and the 
upright. To the Fleming and the Huguenot was now added the 
Scot. In philosophy, in history, in law, in science, in poetry, in 
romance, in the arts of life, in trade, in government, in war, in 
the spread of our dominions, in the consolidation of our Empire, 
glorious has been the part which Scotland has played. Her poet's 
prayer has been answered, and in " bright succession " have been 
raised men to adorn and guard not only herself but the country 
which belongs to Englishmen and Scotchmen alike. Little of this 
was seen, still less foreseen by Johnson. The change which was 
going on in Scotland was rapid and conspicuous ; the change which 
she was working outside her borders was slow, and as yet almost 
imperceptible. What was seen raised not admiration, but jealousy 
of the vigorous race which was everywhere so rapidly " making its 
way to employment, riches, and distinction." That Johnson should 
exult in the good which Scotland had derived from England through 
the Union was natural. Scarcely less natural that he should point 
out how much remained to be done before the Scotch attained 
the English level, not only in the comforts and refinements, but 
even in the decencies of life. One great peculiarity in their civili- 
zation struck him deeply. " They had attained the liberal without 
the manual arts, and excelled in ornamental knowledge while they 
wanted the conveniences of common life." : Even the peasantry 
were able to dispute with wonderful sagacity upon the articles of 
their faith, though they were content to live in huts which had not 
a single chimney to carry off the smoke. 3 Wesley, each time that 
he crossed the Borders, found a far harder task awaiting him than 
when he was upbraiding, denouncing, and exhorting an English 

1 Past and Present (ed. 1858), p. 80. * Works, ix. 23. 

3 Humphry Clinker, iii. 83. 


congregation. To the Scotch, cradled as they had been in the 
Shorter Catechism, and trained as they were from their youth up 
in theology, his preaching, like Paul's to the Greeks, was too often 
foolishness. He spoke to a people, as he complained, " who heard 
much, knew everything, and felt nothing." ' Though " you use 
the most cutting words still they hear, but feel no more than the 
seats they sit upon." 1 Nowhere did he speak more roughly than 
in Scotland. No one there was offended at plain dealing. " In 
this respect they were a pattern to all mankind." But yet " they 
hear and hear, and are just what they were before. " ; He was 
fresh from the Kelso people and was preaching to a meeting in 
Northumberland when he wrote : " Oh ! what a difference is there 
between these living stones, and the dead unfeeling multitudes in 
Scotland." 1 "The misfortune of a Scotch congregation," he re- 
corded on another occasion, "is they know everything; so they 
learn nothing." 5 

With their disputatious learning the meagreness of their fare and 
the squalor of their dwellings but ill contrasted. " Dirty living," 
said Smollett, " is the great and general reproach of the commonalty 
of this kingdom." 6 While Scotland sent forth into the world year 
after year swarms of young men trained in thrift, well stored with 
knowledge, and full of energy and determination, the common people 
bore an ill-repute for industry. They were underfed, and under-feed- 
ing produced indolent work. " Flesh-meat they seldom or never 
tasted ; nor any kind of strong liquor except two-penny at times of 
uncommon festivity." 7 " Ale," wrote Lord Kames, " makes no 
part of the maintenance of those in Scotland who live by the sweat 
of their brow. Water is their only drink." 1 Adam Smith ad- 
mitted that both in bodily strength and personal appearance they 
were below the English standard. " They neither work so well, 
nor look so well." 9 Wolfe, when he returned to England from 
Scotland in 1/53, said that he had not crossed the Border a 
mile when he saw the difference that was produced upon the 
face of the country by labour and industry. " The English are 
clean and laborious, and the Scotch excessively dirty and lazy." 1 

This dirtiness would offend an Englishman more than a man of 

1 Wesley \ Journal, iv. 13. ' ll>. iii. 83. 

2 Ib. p. 272. 3 Hi. iv. 229. ^ Raines's Sketches of the History of Man, ii. 

4 /*. ii. 412. 333. 

5 Ib. iii. 179. ' Wealth of Nations, i. 222. 

' Humphry Clinker, iii. 44. 10 Wright's Life of Wolfe, p. 276. 


any other nation, for " high and low, rich and poor, they were 
remarkable for cleanness all the world over." Matthew Bramble, 
in Smollett's Humphry ('.linker, notices the same change. "The 
boors of Northumberland," he wrote, " are lusty fellows, fresh- 
complexioned, cleanly and well-clothed ; but the labourers in Scot- 
land are generally lank, lean, hard-featured, sallow, soiled and 
shabby. The cattle are much in the same style with their drivers, 
meagre, stunted, and ill-equipt." ' Topham, in his Letters from 
Edinburgh, asserts the misery, but denies the idleness. Tempe- 
rance and labour were, he says, in the extreme ; nevertheless, on all 
sides were seen, " haggard looks, meagre complexions, and bodies 
weakened by fatigue and worn down by the inclemency of the 
seasons." Neither were the poor of the capital any better off. 
Their wretchedness and poverty exceeded, he thought, what was to 
be found anywhere else in the whole world. But though as a 
nation the Scotch were very poor, yet they were very honest. 3 
A traveller through the country in i 766 goes so far as to maintain 
that the common people in outward appearance would not at first 
be taken to be of the human species. Though their indigence 
was extreme, yet they would rather sufier poverty than labour. 
Their nastiness was greater than could be reported. Happily their 
rudeness was beginning to wear off, and in the trading towns where 
the knowledge of the use of money was making them eager enough 
to acquire it, they were already pretty well civilized and indus- 
trious. 1 Wages were miserably low. The Scotch labourer received 
little more than half what was paid to the Englishman; yet grain 
was dearer in Scotland than in England:" The historian of 
Edinburgh thus sums the general condition of the labouring 
poor : 

" The common people have no ideas of the comforts of life. The labourers 
and low mechanics live in a very wretched style. Their houses are the receptacles 
of nastiness, where the sp'der may in peace weave his web from generation to 
generation. A garden, where nothing is to be seen but a few plants of coleworts or 
potatoes, amidst an innumerable quantity of weeds, surrounds his house. A bit of 
flesh will not be within his door twice a year. He abhors industry, and has no 
relish for the comforts arising from it." l 

Lord Elibank's famous reply to Johnson's definition of oats had 

1 Kames's Sketches of the History of Man, i. '' Wealth of Nations, i. 100. See also Arnot's 

265. History of Edinburgh, p. 557, and Knox's 'Jour, 

- Humphry Clinker, ii. 213. p. cxviii. 

3 Letters from Edinburgh, pp. 279, 361. " Arnot's History of Edinburgh (ed. 1779), 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, 1766, p. 209. p. 353. 


every merit but a foundation of fact. "Oats," wrote Johnson, "a 
strain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scot- 
land supports the people." " Very true," replied his lordship, 
" and where will you find such men and such horses ? " ' 

The natural result of this general poverty was seen in the 
number of beggars who thronged the streets and roads. Scotland 
was neither blessed with a good poor-law nor cursed with a bad 
one. The relief of want was left altogether to charity. In Edin- 
burgh Johnson thought that the proportion of beggars was not less 
than in London. " In the smaller places it was far greater than in 
English towns of the same extent." The mendicants were not, 
however, of the order of sturdy vagabonds. They were neither 
importunate nor clamorous. " They solicit silently, or very 
modestly." : Smollett went so far as to maintain in his Humphry 
Clinker, which was published only two years before Johnson's 
visit, that " there was not a beggar to be seen within the precincts 
of Edinburgh." For some years, indeed, the streets had been 
free of them, for a charity workhouse had been erected, to which 
they were all committed. But the magistrates had grown careless, 
and the evil had broken out afresh. " The streets are crowded 
with begging poor," wrote one writer. " We see the whole stairs, 
streets, and public walks swarming with beggars every day," wrote 
another. 4 

The general neglect of the decencies of life was due chiefly to 
poverty, but partly, no doubt, to that violent outburst against all 
that is beautiful and graceful which accompanied the Reformation 
in Scotland. A nation which, as a protest against popery, 
" thought dirt and cob-webs essential to the house of God," : ' was 
not likely in their homes to hold that cleanliness was next to 
godliness. The same coarseness of living had been found in all 
classes, though it was beginning to yield before English influence. 
Dr. Alexander Carlyle, in the year 1 742, notices as a sign of 
increasing refinement, that at the tavern in Haddington, where the 
Presbytery dined, knives and forks were provided for the table. 
A few years earlier each guest had brought his own. There was, 
however, only one glass, which went round with the bottle." The 
same custom had prevailed in Edinburgh when Lord Kames was 

1 Boswell's Johnson, i. 294, /. 8. ' Seals Magazine, 1772, p. 636, and 1773, 

2 Johnson's Works, ix. 9. p. 399- ' H"'pl"y Clinker, iii. 5. 
' Humphry Clinker (ed. 1792), iii. 5. u t)i-. Alexander Carlyle's Autobiography, p. 64. 


;i young man. French wine was placed on the table, he said, in a 
small tin vessel, which held about an Knglish pint. A single 
drinking-glass served a company the whole evening, and the first 
persons who called for a new glass with every new pint were 
accused of luxury. 1 Bos well could remember the time when a 
carving knife was looked upon as a novelty. One of his friends 
was rated by his father, " a gentleman of ancient family and good 
literature, for introducing such a foppish superfluity." In the 
previous generation whatever food was eaten with a spoon, such as 
soup, milk, or pudding, used to be taken by every person dipping 
his spoon into the common dish. 2 When an old laird was com- 
plimented on the accomplishments which his son had brought 
home from his travels, " he answered that he knew nothing he had 
learnt but to cast a sark (change a shirt) every day, and to sup his 
kail twice. " : Of the food that was served up, there was not much 
greater variety than of the dishes in which it was served. When 
Wesley first visited Scotland, even at a nobleman's table, he had 
only one kind of meat, and no vegetables whatever. By the year 
1788, however, vegetables were, he recorded, as plentiful as in 
England. 4 The butter in these early days made in country houses, 
" would have turned stomachs the least squeamish." But by the 
introduction of tea a great improvement had been made. Bread 
and butter was taken with it, and a demand arose for butter that 
was sweet and clean. Wheaten bread, too, began to be generally 
eaten. So great a delicacy had it been, that the sixpenny loaf and 
the sugar used to be kept "locked up in the lady's press."' 5 In 
the Highlands, at all events, there was a great variety as well as 
abundance of food. The following was the breakfast which in 
Argyleshire was set before the travellers in Humphry Clinker: 

" One kit of boiled eggs ; a second full of butter ; .1 third full of cream ; an 
entire cheese made of goat's milk ; a large earthen pot full of honey ; the best part 
of a ham ; a cold venison pasty ; a bushel of oatmeal made in thin cakes and 
bannocks, with a small wheaten loaf in the middle for the strangers ; a large stone 
bottle full of whisky, another of brandy, and a kilderkin of ale. There was a ladle 
chained to the cream kit, with curious wooden bickers to be filled from this 

1 Kames's Sketches of the History of Man (eel. mode of eating came down nearly lo the date of 
1807), i. 507. Johnson's visit, even in the houses of gentlemen. 

2 London Magazine for 1778, p. 198. In the houses of "the substantial tenants" it 

3 Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth continued till much later (il>. p. 64). 
Century, ii. 64. George Drummond of Blair, of 4 Wesley'syiwwa/, iv. 418. 

whom this story is told, did not succeed to his '" Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth 

estate till 1739 (ib. p. 112), so that this rude Century, ii. 70, 71, 251. 


reservoir. The spirits were drunk out oi -,\ silver qualf, and ilie ale unt ol horns. 
Finally a large roll of tobacco was presented by way of desert, and every individual 
took a comfortable quid, lo prevent the bad effects of the morning air." ' 

Knox, in his Tour through t/ic Highlands? gives u still vaster 
bill of fare. The houses of the country gentlemen were lor the 
most part small. " It was only on festivals or upon ceremonious 
occasions, that the dining-room was used. 1'eople lived mostly in 
the family bed-chamber, where friends and neighbours were 
received without scruple. Many an easy, comfortable meal," 
writes Ramsay, of Ochtertyre, "had 1 made in that way." : It 
was to this custom that the Scotch had of turning a bed-room into 
an eating- room that an English traveller refers, when he says that 
the Edinburgh taverns are the worst in the world, for "you sup 
underground in a bed-chamber." ' Even at the modern houses 
there was generally a total absence of an accommodation such as 
would not at the present day be tolerated in a labourer's cottage 
by a sanitary inspector in any district in England." 

The state of the capital was far worse even than the state of 
the country. It was one of the last places in the world on which 
would have been bestowed that favourite and almost exalted 
epithet of praise ncal* The houses, indeed, were solidly built, 
and the rooms of the well-to-do people were comfortable and clean, 
and often spacious. " Nothing could form a stronger contrast than 
the difference between the outside and the inside of the door." 
Within all was decency and propriety, without was a filthy stair 
case leading down into a filthy street, livery story was a com- 
plete house, occupied by a separate family. The steep and dark 
staircase was common to all, and was kept clean by none. It was 
put to the basest uses. 7 The gentry did not commonly occupy the 
lowest stories or the highest. The following is the list of the 
inhabitants of a good house in the High Street : 

" First door upstairs, Mr. Stirling, fishmonger. 

"Second door, Mrs. Urquhart, who kept a lodging-house of good repute. 

" Third flat, the Dowager Countess of Balcarras. 

"Fourth flat, Mrs. Uudian, of Kelly. 

' Humphry Clinker, iii. 28. (he Ilebriiles where the same ilrliciency is Mill 

* Knox's 7'our, p. 199. round. 

' Scotland ami Scotsmen in //if F.ii'Jileenl/i " (jray calls (Jcneva " neal," iiiul lli: repast 

Centuiy, ii. 65. which was set Ix-fore him al the "(iranile (.'liar- 

' Cent/email's Mnga:int for 1771, p. 543. Ireiise" "extremely neat." 'iray's Works, e<l. 

5 BosweH's/0AHrt>, v. 172. There are inns in 1858, ii. 62, 63. 

7 Humphry Clinker, ii. 221, anil Arnot's Hillary of Edinburgh, p. 241. 


" Fifth llat, tlie Misses Elliots, milliners. 

"Garrets, a great variety of tailors and other tradesmen." ' 

There were no water pipes, there were no drain pipes, there 
were no cess-pools, and there were no covered sewers in the streets. 
At a fixed hour of the night all the impurities were carried down 
the common staircase in tubs, and emptied into the street as into a 
common sewer, or else, in defiance of the law, cast out of the 
window. " Throwing over the window" was the delicate phrase in 
which this vile practice was veiled. It was " an obstinate disease 
which had withstood all the labour of the Magistrates, Acts of Council, 
Dean of Guild Courts for stencheling, 2 tirlesing/ 1 and locking up 
windows, fines, imprisonments, and banishing the city." 4 The 
servants were willing to serve for lower wages in houses where this 
practice was winked at. It gave rise to numerous quarrels which 
caused constables more trouble than any other part of their duty. 5 
According to the account given by the English maid in H^t,mpllry 
Clinker, when " the throwing over " began, " they called gardy loo 
to the passengers, which signifies Lord have mercy upon you." " A 
young English traveller, who, the first night of his arrival in Edin- 
burgh, was enjoying his supper, as he tells us, and good bottle of 
claret with a merry company in a tavern, heard, as the clock was 
striking ten, the beat of the city drum, the signal for the scavenging 
to begin. The company at once began to fumigate the room by 
lighting pieces of paper and throwingthem on the table. Tobacco 
smoking, it is clear, could not have been in fashion. As his way to 
his lodgings lay through one of the wyncls he was provided " with 
a guide who went before him, crying out all the way, Hud your 
Hinindc." ' The city scavengers cleansed the streets as fast as they 
could, and by opening reservoirs which were placed at intervals 
washed the pavement clean. 8 

To this intolerable nuisance the inhabitants generally seemed 

1 Keekiana, by Robert Chambers, p. 227 : ' The Ci/y Cleaned and Country Jmproven, 

" The house was situated at the head of Dick- pp. 6, 8. 

son's Close, a few doors below Niddry Street." " Humphry Clinker, ii. 227. Garily loo is a 

I have found all these names, except Stirling's, corruption of gardes I'eau, a cry which, like so 

in the recent interesting reprint of the Edinburgh many other Scotch customs and words, bears 

Directory for I773~4> published by William witness to the close connection which of old 

Brown, Edinburgh, 1889. existed between Scotland and France. 

" Stenchel. An iron bar for a window." ~ Hurt's Letters from a Gentleman, etc., \, 

Jnmieson's Scottish Dictionary. 21. 

3 Tirlesing is not given by Jamieson. * Topham's Letters from Edinburgh, p. 

4 The City Cleaned and Country Impre/ven, 152. 
Edinburgh, 1760, p. 5. 


insensible, and were too apt to imagine the disgust of strangers as 
little better than affectation. 1 Yet it was not affectation which led 
John Wesley, in May, 1761, to make the following entry in his 
Journal : 

" The situation of the city on a hill shelving down on both sides, as well as to the 
east, with the stately castle upon a craggy rock on the west, is inexpressibly fine. 
And the main street so broad and finely paved, with the lofty houses on either hand 
(many of them seven or eight stories high) is far beyond any in Great Britain. But 
how can it be suffered that all manner of filth should still be thrown, even into this 
street, continually ? Where are the Magistracy, the Gentry, the Nobility of the Land ? 
Have they no concern for the honour of their nation ? How long shall the 
capital city of Scotland, yea and the chief street of ii, stink worse than a common 
sewer ? " 

Ten years earlier he had described the town as dirtier even 
than Cologne. According to Wolfe, it was not till after Christmas, 
when the company had come into it from the country, that it was 
"in all its perfection of dirt and gaiety." : Gray called it "that 
most picturesque (at a distance) and nastiest (when near) of all 
capital cities." "Pray for me till I see you," he added, "for 
I dread Edinburgh and the ." 5 To add to the insalubrity, the 
windows would not readily open. In Scotland they neither opened 
wide on hinges, nor were drawn up and down by weights and 
pulleys. For the most part the lower sash only could be raised ; and 
when lifted, it was propped open by a stick or by a pin thrust into 
a hole. 6 " What cannot be done without some uncommon trouble 
or particular expedient will not often be done at all. The incom- 
modiousness of the Scotch windows keeps them very closely shut." "' 
From this closeness Johnson suffered not a little, for he loved fresh 
air, " and on the coldest day or night would set open a window and 
stand before it," as Boswell knew to his cost. 8 Topham, who sided 
with his Scotch friends against Johnson, scoffed at these obser- 
vations on window-frames and pulleys. " Men of the world," 
he wrote, " would not have descended to such remarks. A petty 
and frivolous detail of trifling circumstances are [sic] the certain 
signs of ignorance or inexperience." Johnson, in introducing the 
subject, had guarded himself against such reflections. " These 
diminutive observations," he said, " seem to take away something 

' Humphry Clinker, ii. 221. " This arrangement is still not uncommon in 

3 Wesley's _/<//v/a/, iii. 54. country places. 

3 Wright's Life of General Wolfe, p. 137. 7 Johnson's Works, ix. 18. 

4 Gray's Works, iv. 52. " Boswell's _//;>, v. 306. 

5 //'. p. 61. " Letters from Edinburgh, p. 141. 


from the dignity of writing. But it must be remembered that the 
true state of every nation is the state of common life." ' This 
indifference to pure air no doubt spread death far and wide. In 
Sir Walter Scott's family we see an instance of the unwholesomeness 
of the Old Town. His six elder brothers and sisters, who were all 
born in the College Wynd, died young. It was only by sending 
him to breathe country air that he was reared. His father's younger 
children were born in one of the new squares, and they for the most 
part were healthy." 

From one burthen that weighed heavily in England the guests 
in most houses in Scotland were free. It was the Scotch, who, as 
Boswell boasted, " had the honour of being the first to abolish the 
unhospitable, troublesome, and ungracious custom of giving vails to 
servants. 'Sir,' said Johnson, 'you abolished vails, because you 
were too poor to be able to give them.' 1 How heavily they 
weighed on all but the rich is shown by an anecdote that I have read 
somewhere of a poor gentleman, who refused to dine with his kins- 
man, a nobleman of high rank, unless with the invitation a guinea 
were sent him to distribute among the expectant servants, who, 
with outstretched hands, always thronged the hall and blocked up 
the doorway as he left. " I paid ten shillings to my host's servants 
for my dinner and retired," is the record of a man who had received 
the honour of an invitation to the house of an English nobleman of 
high rank. ' Even Queen Caroline had complained of " the pretty 
large expense " to which she had been put in the summer of 1735 
in visiting her friends, not at their country houses, but in town. 
" That is your own fault (said the King), for my father, when 
he went to people's houses in town, never was fool enough to 
be giving away his money." 5 It was to the gentlemen of the 
county of Aberdeen that was due the merit of beginning this 
great reformation. About the year 1759 they resolved at a 
public meeting that vails should be abolished and wages in- 
creased. 6 Early in February, 1760, the Select Society of Edin- 
burgh, following their lead, passed a resolution to which their 
President, the historian Robertson, seems to have lent the graces of 
his style. They declared that " this custom, being unknown to 

' Works, ix. 1 8. 4 Thicknesse's Observations on the Customs 

'* Lockhart's Life of Scott, i. 108. and Manners of the French, 1766, p. 106. 

3 Boswell's Johnson, ii. 78. Sheridan, in his 5 Lord Ilervey's Memoiis, ii. 50. 

Life of Swift, records an earlier abolition of B Aniot's History of Edinburgh, p. 376. 

vails in Ireland (Swift's Works, ii. 108). 


other nations and a reproach upon the manners and police of this 
country, has a manifest tendency to corrupt the hospitality and 
to destroy all intercourse between families. They resolved that 
from and after the term of Whitsuntide next every member of the 
Society would absolutely prohibit his own servants to take vails or 
drink-money, and that he would not offer it to the servants of any 
person who had agreed to this resolution." Like resolutions 
followed from the Faculty of Advocates, the Society of Clerks 
to His Majesty's Signet, the Heritors of Mid-Lothian headed 
by the Earl of Lauderdale, the Grand Lodge of Freemasons, headed 
by the Earl of Leven, and the Honourable Company of Scots 
Hunters headed by the President, the Earl of Errol. 3 The same 
good change was attempted a few years later in England, but 
apparently without success. The footmen, night after night, raised 
a riot at Ranelagh Gardens, and mobbed and ill-treated some 
gentlemen who had been active in the attempt. " There was 
fighting with drawn swords for some hours ; they broke one chariot 
all to pieces. The ladies go into fits, scream, run into the gardens, 
and do everything that is ridiculous " 

That " felicity" which England had in its taverns and inns was 
not equally enjoyed in Scotland. Certainly it was not in Edin- 
burgh that was to be found " that throne of human felicity a tavern 
chair." 4 Yet in the Lowlands generally the fare in the inns was 
good and the accommodation clean. Along both the eastern and 
the western roads John Wesley was well pleased with the entertain- 
ment with which he met. " We had all things good, cheap, in great 
abundance, and remarkably well dressed."' In the Gentleman s 
Magazine for December, 1771, a curious list is given of the inns 
and innkeepers in Scotland. According to this account the fare 
generally was good, while everywhere was found " excellent clean 
linen both for bed and board." The traveller did well, however, 
who had his sheets toasted and his bed warmed, for the natives, 
used as they were to sleeping in their wet plaids, were careless 
about a damp bed. Goldsmith, on the other hand, spoke as ill of 
the Scotch inns as he did of the Scotch landscape. In them, he 

1 Edinburgh Chronicle for 1760, p. 495. a Walpole's Memoirs of 1 lie Keignof.Ueorge III., 

'' Jl>. pp. 503, 518, 583, 623. The Scots ii. 3, and Letters of the First Earl of Malnus- 

Hunters were, I suppose, the same as the Royal luuy, \ 108-9. 

Hunters a body of gentlemen vohmteeis who 4 Boswell's Johnson, ii. 452. 

were raised at the time of the Rebellion of 1745, "' Wesley's /ournal, i 1 . 22S, 285 

am! served under General Oglcthorpe. 



says, "vile entertainment is served up, complained of, and sent 
down ; up comes worse, and that also is changed, and every change 
makes our wretched cheer more unsavoury." ' The scantiness of 
his purse, however, would have made him resort to the humblest 
houses, and probably his experience did not extend much outside 
of Edinburgh. Of the inns of that city, no one, whether native or 
stranger, had a good word to say. The accommodation that was 
provided, writes the historian of Edinburgh, "was little better than 
that of a waggoner or a carrier." !i " The inns are mean buildings," 
he continues, " their apartments dirty and dismal ; and if the waiters 
happen to be out of the way, a stranger will perhaps be shocked 
with the novelty of being shown into a room by a dirty sun-burnt 
wench without shoes or stockings. If he should desire furnished 
lodgings, he is probably conducted to the third or fourth floor, up 
dark and dirty stairs, and there shown into apartments meanly 
fitted up. The taverns in general are dirty and dismal as the inns ; 
an idle profusion of victuals, collected without taste, and dressed 
without skill or cleanliness, is commonly served up. There are, 
however, exceptions, and a Scots tavern, if a good one, is the best 
of all taverns." : Smollett, willing as he was to see the good side 
of everything in Scotland, yet represents the inn in Edinburgh at 
which Matthew Bramble alighted as being " so filthy and so dis- 
agreeable in every respect, that the old man began to fret." 4 
Perhaps it was the same house which is described by Topham in 
the following lively passage in his Letters : 

"Nov. 15, 1774. There is no inn that is better than an alehouse, nor any 
accommodation that is decent or cleanly. On my first arrival my companion and 
myself, after the fatigue of a long day's journey, were landed at one of these stable- 
keepers (for they have modesty enough to give themselves no higher denomination) 
in a part of the town called the Pleasance. 6 We were conducted by a poor devil of 
a girl, without shoes or stockings, and only a single linsey-wolsey petticoat, which 
just reached half-way to her ankles, into a room where about twenty Scotch drovers 
had been regaling themselves with whiskey and potatoes. You may guess our 
amazement when we were informed that this was the best inn in the metropolis, 
that we could have no beds, unless we had an inclination to sleep together, and 
in the same room with the company which a stage-coach had that moment dis- 

In the Edinb^^rgk Directory for 1773-4, among the different 

1 Present State of Polite Learning, ch. xii. * Letters from Edinburgh, p. 1 8. 

a Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 658. "The Pleasance consists of one mean street; 

J Ib. pp. 352-4. through it lies the principal road to London. "- 

1 Humphry Clinker, ii. 214. Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 328. 



trades, there is no entry under the heading of inn-keepers. There 
are vintners, who, I suppose, were also tavern-keepers, and stablers, 
who kept the inns. It was to this curious appellation that Topham 
referred when he said that the inn-keepers had the modesty to call 
themselves stable-keepers. 

A few years after Johnson's visit a good hotel was at last 
opened in the New Town. The accommodation was elegant, but 
the charges extravagant. 1 The French traveller, Saint Fond, who 
stayed in it about the year 1 780, said that the house was magni- 
ficent and adorned with columns, as his bill was with flourishes and 
vignettes. Half a sheet of note-paper was charged threepence, 
with sixpence added for the trouble of fetching it. He paid twice 
as much for everything as in the best inn on the road from London. 
In all his journeyings through England and Scotland he was only 
twice charged exorbitantly at Dunn's Hotel in Edinburgh, and at 
the Bull's Head in Manchester. 2 

Johnson, coming from Berwick by the coast-road, entered 
Edinburgh by the Canongate. It was on a dusky night in August 
that, arm in arm with Boswell, he walked up the High Street. 
" Its breadth and the loftiness of the buildings on each side made," 
he acknowledged, " a noble appearance."' In the light of the day 
he does not seem to have been equally impressed. " Most of the 
buildings are very mean," he wrote to Mrs. Thrale ; " and the whole 
town bears some resemblance to the old part of Birmingham." In 
his Letters he does not touch on that appearance so unusual to 
Englishmen which, as we learn from his narrative, generally struck 
him in the ancient towns of Scotland. 5 Wesley's attention was 
caught by this same " peculiar oddness " and " air of antiquity." 
They were like no places that he had ever seen in England, Wales, 
or Ireland." It was not, however, to Birmingham that that great 
traveller likened the famous High Street. There was nothing, he 
said, that could compare with it in Great Britain. Defoe's admira- 
tion had risen still higher. In his eyes it ranked as almost the 
largest, longest, and finest street in the world. Its solidity of stone 
he contrasted with the slightness of the houses in the South. Lofty 
though the buildings were, placed, too, on " the narrow ridge of a 
long ascending mountain," with storms often raging round them, 

1 Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 353. 4 Pioszi Letters, i. 109. 

* Voyage en Angleterre, etc., i. 200, 229, ii. 309. 5 Works, ix. 18. 

3 Boswell's /!>/;>, v. 23. ' Wesley's Journal, ii. 228. 


" there was no blowing oi tiles about the streets to knock people on 
the heads as they passed ; no stacks of chimneys and gable-ends of 
houses falling in to bury the inhabitants in their ruins, as was often 
found in London and other of our paper-built cities in England." ' 
" The High Street is the stateliest street in the world," said another 
writer ; " being broad enough for five coaches to drive up a-breast, 
while the houses are proportionately high." : According to Topham 
it surpassed " the famous street in Lisle, La Rue Royale." ; " It 
would be undoubtedly one of the noblest streets in Europe," wrote 
Smollett, " if an ugly mass of mean buildings, called the Lucken- 
booths, had not thrust itself into the middle of the way." 4 Pennant 
had the same tale to tell. " As fine a street as most in Europe, 
was spoilt by the Luckenbooth Row and the Guard House."' 
Carlyle, when he came to Edinburgh as a boy-student, in the year 
1809, had seen " the Luckenbooths, with their strange little ins and 
outs, and eager old women in miniature shops of combs, shoe-laces, 
and trifles." 6 One venerable monument had been wantonly re- 
moved, while so much that was mean and ugly was left to encumber 
the street. In 1756 those "dull destroyers," the magistrates, had 
pulled down " Dun-Edin's Cross." 7 From the bottom of the hill 
" by the very Palace door," up to the gates of the Castle the High 
Street, even so late as Johnson's time, was the home of men of 
rank, of wealth, and of learning. It did not bear that look of sullen 
neglect which chills the stranger who recalls its past glories. The 
craftsmen and the nobles, the poor clerks and the wealthy merchants, 
judges, shopkeepers, labourers, authors, physicians, and lawyers, 
lived all side by side, so that " the tide of existence " which swept 
up and down was as varied as it was full. The coldness of the 
grey stone of the tall houses was relieved by the fantastic devices 
in red or yellow or blue on a ground of black, by which each trader 
signified the commodities in which he dealt. As each story was a 
separate abode, there were often seen painted on the front of one 
tall house half-a-dozen different signs. Here was a quartern loaf 
over a full-trimmed periwig, and there a Cheshire cheese or a rich 
firkin of butter over stays and petticoats. 8 To the north, scarcely 
broken as yet by the scattered buildings of the infant New Town, 

1 Defoe's Tour through Great Britain ; Ac- s Tour in Scotland, i. 52. 

count of 'Scotland (ed. 1727), iii. 29, 30, 33. e Carlyle 's Reminiscences, ii. 5. 

'* J. Mackie's/OT<ry through Scotland, p. 65. ' See Marmion, note in the Appendix on 

3 Letters from Edinburgh, p. 8. Canto V., Stanza 25. 

4 Humphry Clinker, ii. 220. 8 Letters from Edinburgh, p. 28. 


the outlook commanded that " incomparable prospect " which de- 
lighted Colonel Mannering, as he gazed from the window of Coun- 
sellor Pleydell's library on " the Frith of Forth with its islands ; the 
einbayment which is terminated by the Law of North Berwick, and 
the varied shores of Fife, indenting with a hilly outline the clear 
blue horizon." ' 

Every Sunday during the hours of service the streets were 
silent and solitary, as if a plague had laid waste the city. But in a 
moment the scene was changed. The multitude that poured forth 
from each church swept everything before it. The stranger who 
attempted to face it was driven from side to side by the advancing 
flood. The faithful were so intently meditating on the good things 
which they had just heard that they had no time to look before 
them. With their large prayer-books under their arms, their eyes 
fixed steadily on the ground, and wrapped up in their plaid cloaks, 
they went on regardless of everything that passed. 2 

Less than thirty years before Johnson, on that August night, 
" went up streets," 3 the young Pretender, surrounded by his High- 
landers, and preceded by his heralds and trumpeters, had marched 
from the Palace of his ancestors to the ancient Market Cross, and 
there had had his father proclaimed King by the title of James the 
Seventh of Scotland and Third of England. Down the same street 
in the following Spring his own standard, with its proud motto of 
Tandem J^riumplians, and the banners of thirteen of his chief cap- 
tains, in like manner preceded by heralds and trumpeters, had been 
borne on the shoulders of the common hangman and thirteen 
chimney-sweepers, to the same Cross, and there publicly burnt. 1 
Here, too, was seen from time to time the sad and terrible proces- 
sion, when, from the Tolbooth, some unhappy wretch was led forth 
to die in the Grass Market. As the clock struck the hour after 
noon, the City Guard knocked at the prison door. The convict at 
once came out, dressed in a waistcoat and breeches of white, bound 
with black ribands, and wearing a night-cap, also bound with black. 
His hands were tied behind him, and a rope was round his neck. 
On each side of him walked a clergyman, the hangman followed be- 

1 Guy Mannering, ii. 101. "logo up ffic street." Scotticisms by Dr. Beattie 

" Letters from Edinburgh, p. 233. The young (published anonymously), p. 82. 

Englishman, perhaps, in this account does not ' Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 223. I 

aim at the strictest accuracy. The large prayer- assume that " the Prince's colours " mentioned 

books were, I suppose, psalm-books or Bibles. by Arnot was the flag described in Wamrley, ii, 

3 "To go up streets" is an Edinburgh phrase for 139. 


hind, muffled in ;i great coat, while all around, with their arms 
ready, marched the Town Guard. Every window in every floor of 
every house was crowded with spectators. 1 Happily the criminal 
law of Scotland was far less bloody than that which at this time 
disgraced England, and executions, except for murder, were rare. 3 
There was also much less crime. While the streets and neighbour- 
hood of London were beset by footpads and highwaymen, in Edin- 
burgh a man might go about with the same security at midnight as 
at noonday. Street robberies were very rare, and a street murder 
was, it is said, a thing unknown. This general safety was due 
partly to the Town Guard,' 5 partly also to the Society of Cadies, or 
Cawdies, a fraternity of errand-runners. Each member had to find 
surety for good behaviour, and the whole body was answerable for 
the dishonesty of each. Their chief place of stand was at the top 
of the High Street, where some of them were found all the day and 
most of the night. They were said to be acquainted with every 
person and every place in Edinburgh. No stranger arrived but 
they knew of it at once. They acted as a kind of police, and were 
as useful as Sir John Fielding's thief-takers in London. 4 In spite 
of these safeguards, in the autumn before Johnson's visit there was 
an outbreak of crime. A reward of one guinea each was offered 
for the arrest of forty persons who had been banished the city, and 
who were suspected of having returned." The worthy Magistrates, 
it should seem, were like Dogberry, and did not trouble themselves 
about a thief so long as he stole out of their company. 

The Edinburgh Tolbooth and the other Scotch gaols were 
worse even than those cruel dens in which the miserable prisoners 
were confined in England. They had no court-yard where the 
fresh air of heaven might be breathed for some hours at least of 
every weary day. Not even to the unhappy debtor was any 
indulgence shown. That air was denied to him which was com- 
mon to all. Even under a guard, said an expounder of the law, 
he had no right to the benefit of free air ; " for every creditor has 

1 Letters from Edinfatrg/i, pp. 58-62. 3 The guard consisted of seventy-five private 

3 According to Arnot, for many years pre- men. Jii. p. 506. 

ceding 1763, the average number of executions 4 Arnot 's History of EJinlntrgh, pp. 502, 658, 

for the whole of Scotland was only three. There and Letters from Edinburgh, pp. 355-60. By 

were four succeeding years in which the punish- the year 1783, says Arnot, in his second edition, 

ment of death was not once inflicted. By 1783, p. 658, their number and their character had 

however, the English severity seems to have greatly sunk. See also Humphry Clinker, ii. 

crept in, for in that year, in Edinburgh alone, in 240. 

one week there were six criminals under sentence '' Scots Magazine for 1772, p. 636. 
of death. History of Edinburgh, p. 670. 



an interest that his debtor be kept under close confinement, that 
by his squalor carceris he may be brought to the payment of his 
just debt." L He was to learn the fulness of the meaning of " the 
curse of a severe creditor who pronounces his debtor's doom, To 
Rot in Gaol." 2 At the present time even in Siberia there cannot, I 
believe, be found so cruel a den as that old Edinburgh To! booth, 
by whose gloomy walls 
Johnson passed on his way 
to Boswell's comfortable 
home close by, where Mrs. 
Boswell and tea were await- 
ing him. In one room 
were found by a writer who 
visited the prison three 
lads confined among " the 
refuse of a long succession 
of criminals." The straw 
which was their bed had 
been worn into bits two 
inches long. In a room on 
the floor above were two 
miserable boys not twelve 
years old. But the stench 
that assailed him as the 
door was opened so over- 
powered him that he fled. 
The accumulation of dirt 
which he saw in the rooms 
and on the staircases was 

so great, that it set him speculating in vain on the length of 
time which must have been required to make it. The supply 
of the food and drink was the jailer's monopoly ; whenever the 
poor wretches received a little money from friends outside, or 
from charity, they were not allowed the benefit of the market price. 
The choice of the debtor's prison was left to the caprice of his 
creditor, and that which was known to be the most loathsome was 
often selected. 3 The summer after Johnson's visit to Edinburgh 


' John Erskine, quoted in Tytler's Life of 
Lord fCames, vol. i. app. x. p. 74, and in Arnot's 
History of Edinburgh, p. 299. 

Howard's State of the Prisons, p. 17. 
Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 300. 


John Wesley, in one of the streets of that town, was suddenly 
arrested by a sheriff's officer on a warrant to commit him to the 
Tolbooth. Happily he was first taken to an adjoining building- 
some kind of spunging-house, it is probable whence he sent word 
to his friends, and obtained bail. The charge brought against him 
was ridiculous, and in the end the prosecutor had heavy damages 
to pay. 1 Nevertheless, monstrous though the accusation was, had 
Wesley been not only a stranger and poor, but also friendless, it 
was in that miserable den that he would have been lodged. His 
deliverance might have been by gaol-fever. 

Boswell himself, if we may trust the tradition, little more than 
four years before he welcomed Johnson, had run a risk of becoming 
acquainted with the inside of that prison. Scotland was all ablaze 
with the great Douglas cause. The succession to the large estates 
of the last Duke of Douglas was in dispute ; so eagerly did men 
share in the shifting course of the long lawsuit, that it was scarcely 
safe to open the lips about it in mixed company. Boswell, with 
all the warmth of his eager nature, took the part of the heir whose 
legitimacy was disallowed by the casting vote of the President in 
the Court of Session. The case was carried on appeal to the 
House of Lords, and on Monday, February 27, 1769, the Scotch 
decision was reversed. A little before eight o'clock on Thursday 
evening the news reached Edinburgh by express. The city was 
at once illuminated, and the windows of the hostile judges were 
broken. Boswell, it is said, headed the mob. That his own 
father's house was among those which he and his followers at- 
tacked, as Sir Walter Scott had heard, 2 is very unlikely : Lord 
Auchinleck had voted in the minority, and so would have been in 
high favour with the rioters. A party of foot soldiers was marched 
into the city, a reward of fifty pounds was offered for the discovery 
of the offenders, and for some nights the streets were patrolled by 
two troops of dragoons. 3 " Boswell's good father," writes Ramsay 
of Ochtertyre, " entreated the President with tears in his eyes to 
put his son in the Tolbooth. Being brought before Sheriff Cock- 
burn for examination, he was desired to tell all that happened that 
night in his own way. ' After,' said he, ' I had communicated the 
glorious news to my father, who received it very coolly, I went to 

1 Wesley's_/;-<r/, vol. iv. p. 17. Speeches in the Douglas Cause (most likely 

2 Croker's Bonvell, p. 387. Boswell), p. 391 ; and Boswell's Johnson, ii. 

3 Scots Magazine for 1769, p. no; The 230. 



the Cross to see what was going on. There I overheard a group 
of fellows forming their plan of operations. One of them asked 
what sort of a man the sheriff was, and whether he was not to be 
dreaded. 'No, no,' answered another; ' he is a puppy of the 
President's making.' On hearing this exordium Mr. Cockburn 
went off, leaving the culprit to himself." 

Among the sights which Johnson was shown at Edinburgh, the 
New Town was not included. Yet some progress had been made 
in laying out those streets, 
" which in simplicity and 
manliness of style and ge- 
neral breadth and bright- 
ness of effect" were de- 
stined to surpass anything 
that has been attempted 
in modern street archi- 
tecture. a from Boswell's 
windows, over the tops of 
the stately elm-trees which 
at that time ran in front of 
James's Court and across 
a deep and marshy hollow, 
the rising houses could be 
easily seen. Full in view 
among the rest was the 
new home Hume had 
lately built for himself at 
the top of a street which HUME'S HOUSE. 

was as yet unnamed, but 

was soon, as St. David's, to commemorate in a jest the great 
philosopher who was its first inhabitant. Had the change which 
was so rapidly coming over Auld Reekie been understood in its 
full extent, surely Johnson's attention would have been drawn to 
it. Boswell only mentions the New Town to introduce the name 
of " the ingenious architect " who planned it, Craig, the nephew 
of the poet Thomson. 3 His mind, perhaps, was so set on 
escaping from " the too narrow sphere of Scotland," and on re- 

' Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth ' 2 Kuskin's Lectures on Architecture and Paint- 

Century, vol. i. p. 173. ing, p. 2. 

3 BosweH's_/0//.tt>, iii. 360, v. 68. 



moving to London, that of Edinburgh and its fortunes he was 
careless. Yet, shrewd observer as he was of men and manners, 
he must have noticed how the tide of fashion had already begun 
to set from the Old Town, and was threatening to leave the 
ancient homes of the noble and the wealthy like so many wrecks 
behind. In many people there was a great reluctance to make a 
move. To some the old familiar life in a fiat was dear, and the 
New Town was built after the English fashion, in what was known 
as " houses to themselves." " One old lady fancied she should be 
lost if she were to get into such an habitation ; another feared 
being blown away in going over the New Bridge ; while a third 
thought that these new fashions could come to nae glided ' Never- 
theless, in spite of all these terrors, the change came very swiftly. 
So early as 1783, "a rouping-wife, or saleswoman of old furniture," 
occupied the house which not many years before had been Lord 
President Craigie's, while a chairman who had taken Lord Drum- 
more's house had " lately left it for want of accommodation." : There 
were men of position, however, who, fashion or no fashion, clung 
to their old homes for many years later. Oueensberry House, 
nearly at the foot of the Canongate, which in later years was 
turned into a Refuge for the Destitute, so late as 1803 was 
inhabited by the Lord Chief Baron Montgomery. Lord Cock- 
burn remembered well the old judge's tall, well-dressed figure in 
the old style, and the brilliant company which gathered round him 
in that ancient but decayed quarter/' 

It was full five years before Johnson's arrival that Dr. Robert- 
son, pleading the cause of his poverty-stricken University, pointed 
out how the large buildings that were rising suddenly on all sides, 
the magnificent bridge that had been begun, and the new streets and 
squares all bore the marks of a country growing in arts and in 
industry.' It was in 1765 that the foundations were laid of the 
bridge which was to cross the valley that separates the Old and 
New Town. It was not till 1772 that "it was made passable." 5 
In 1783 the huge mound was begun which now so conveniently 
joins the two hills. The earth of .which it is formed was dug out 
in making the foundations of the new houses. Fifteen hundred 
cartloads on an average were thrown in daily for the space of three 

1 Letters from Edinburgh, p. 12. 4 Heats Magazine for 1768, p. 115. 

" Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 653. ' Avnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 314. 

3 Cockburn's Memorials oj his -Time, p. 183. 


years. 1 The valley, which with its lawns, its slopes, its trim walls, 
its beds of (lowers, and its trees, adds so much to the pleasantness 
and beauty of Edinburgh, was when Johnson looked down into it 
"a deep morass, one of the dirtiest puddles upon earth. " : It was 
in its black mud that Hume one day stuck when he had slipped 
off the stepping-stones on the way to his new house. A fishwife, 
who was following after him, recognizing " the Deist," refused to 
help him unless he should recite first the Lord's Prayer and the 
Belief. 3 This he at once did to her great wonder. His admiration 
for the New Town was unbounded. If the High Street was finer 
than anything of its kind in Europe the New Town, he maintained, 
exceeded anything in any part of the world. ' " You would not 
wonder that I have abjured London for ever," he wrote to his 
friend, Strahan, in the year 1772, " if you saw my new house and 
situation in St. Andrew's Square." 5 Adam Smith told Rogers the 
poet, who visited Edinburgh in 1 789, that the Old Town had 
given Scotland a bad name, and that he was anxious to move with 
the rest." 

The age which I am attempting to describe was looked upon 
by Lord Cockburn as " the last purely Scotch age that Scotland 
was destined to see. The whole country had not begun to be 
absorbed in the ocean of London." 7 The distance between the 
two capitals as measured by time, fatigue, and money was little 
less than the distance in the present day between Liverpool and 
New York. Johnson, who travelled in post-chaises, and therefore 
in great comfort, was nine days on the road. "He purposed," he 
wrote, " not to loiter much by the way ; " 9 but he did not journey 
by night, and he indulged in two days' rest at Newcastle. Hume, 
three years later, travelling by easy stages on account of his failing 
health, took two clays longer." Had Johnson gone by the public 
conveyance, the " Newcastle Fly " would have brought him in three 
days as far as that town at a charge of ^"3 6^. On the panels of the 
" Fly " was painted the motto, Sat cito si sat bcne. Thence he would 
have continued his journey by the " Edinburgh Fly," which 

1 Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 654, and ' //>. ii. 462. 

W. Creech's Letters to Sir John Sinclair, p. 9. ' Letters of David Hume to William Strahan, 

Creech gives the number of cartloads at eighteen p. 227. 

hundred. " Early Life of Samuel Rogers, p. 92. 

'* Arnot's History of Edinburgh, anil Francis ' Cock burn's l.ije of J f ff>' L 'y, ' T 57' 

Douglas's General Description of the East Coast ~ Hoswcll's Johnson, ii. 265. 

of Scotland, 1782, p. 9. ; ' Hume's Let/as to Strahan, p. 320 

3 Burton's Life of Hume, ii. 458. 


traversed the whole remaining distance in a single day in summer, 
and in a day and a hall in winter. The charge for this was i IK*. 6J. 
In these sums were not included the payments to the drivers and 
guards. The " Newcastle Fly " ran six times a week, starting from 
London an hour after midnight. The " Edinburgh Fly " ran only 
on ruesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. A traveller then who 
lost no time on the road, leaving London at one o'clock on Sunday 
night, would in the summer-time reach Edinburgh by Thursday 
evening, and in the winter alter mid-day on Friday. 1 Even the 
mail which was carried on horse -back, and went tive times a week, 
took in good weather about S^ hours. 5 The news of the battle of 
Culloden. though it was forwarded by an express, was seven days 
all but two or three hours in reaching London.' There were men 
living in 18.14 who recollected when the mail came down with only 
one single letter for Edinburgh.* By 1793 a great acceleration 
had been effected in the coach-service. It was possible, so the proud 
boast ran, to leave Edinburgh alter morning service on Sunday, 
spend a whole day in London, and be back again by six o'clock on 
Saturday morning.' The wean, traveller would have had to pass 
every night in the coach. By the year i Soo the journey was done 
from London to Edinburgh in nfry-eight hours, and from Edin- 
burgh to London in sixty and a half/ But such annihilation of 
time and space, as no doubt this rapid rate of travelling was then 
called, was not dreamed of in Johnson's day. The capitals of 
Engiand and Scotland still stood widely apart. It was wholly "a 
Scotch scene " wr.xrh the English traveller saw. and ~ independent 
and ideas and pursuits'" caught his attention.* Neverthe- 
ir. one respect Edinburgh, as I have already said, teh strongly 
:rr._>ence of England. In its literature and its language it was 
*abvYxxts!y tanning itself on the English modeL There had been 
a long period during which neither learning nor literature had 
shone :n Scotland with any brightness of tight. Since the days 
oi~ the great cisssxal scholars not a single tamous author had been 
seen. There had been "tanking candtes" from rime to rime, bnt 
. ^ > The two countries were under the same 

jLecjtm* 'ii' "j-i SJbOk. i. 77. 

? . It- 

. J^L. t i. >9taiBML|y. 

cr- .1. :~. ant Tfcr"> 


sovereign, but there was no Age of Queen Anne north of the 
Tweed. There was indeed that general diffusion of learning which 
was conspicuously wanting in England. An English traveller 
noticed with surprise how rare it was to find "a man of any rank 
but the lowest who had not some tincture of learning. It was the 
pride and delight of every father to give his son a liberal educa- 
tion." Nevertheless it had been " with their learning as with 
provisions in a besieged town, every man had a mouthful and no 
one a bellyful." That there was a foundation for Johnson's pointed 
saying was many years later candidly admitted by Sir Walter 
Scott. 3 So great had been the dearth of literature that the 
printer's art had fallen into decay. About the year 1 740 there 
were but four printing-houses in Edinburgh, which found scanty 
employment in producing school-books, law-papers, newspapers, 
sermons, and Bibles. By 1779 the number had risen from four to 
seven and twenty. 4 This rapid growth was by no means wholly 
due to an increase in Scotch authors. Edinburgh might have 
become " a hot-bed of genius," but such productiveness even in a 
hot-bed would have been unparalleled. The booksellers in late 
years, in defiance of the supposed law of copyright, had begun to 
reprint the works of standard English writers, and after a long 
litigation had been confirmed in what they were doing by a 
decision given in the House of Lords. 5 

The growth of literature in Scotland had taken a turn which 
was not unnatural. In the troubles of the seventeenth century the 
nation, while yet it was in its power, had neglected to refine its 
language. No great masters of style had risen. There had been 
no Sir William Temple "to give cadence to its prose."' The 
settled government and the freedom from tyranny which the 
country enjoyed on the fall of the Stuarts, the growth of material 
wealth which followed on the Union, the gradual diminution of 
bigotry and the scattering of darkness which was part of the general 
enlightenment of Europe had given birth to a love of modern litera- 
ture. The old classical learning no longer sufficed. Having no 
literature of their own which satisfied their aspirations, the younger 
generation of men was forced to acquire the language of their 

1 Gentleman's Magazine for 1766, p. 167. * Arnot's Hillary of Edinburgh, p. 437. 

'' Boswell's/oAiuOTf, ii. 363, . 3. ; Bos well 's/tfAJ<, i- 437. -27 2 . and Hume's 

1 In the speech which he marie in 1824 on the Letters to Strahan, p. 275. 

opening of the New Edinburgh Academy. Lock- '- Boswell's/oAHttW, iii. 257. 

hart's Life of Scott, vii. 271. 


ancient rivals, brought as it had been by a long succession of 
illustrious authors to a high decree of perfection. 1 It was to the 
volumes of Addison that the Scotch student was henceforth to give 
his days and nights. To read English was an art soon acquired, 
but to write it, and still more to speak it correctly, demanded a 
long and laborious study. Very few, with all their perseverance, 
succeeded like Mallet in "clearing their tongues from their native 
pronunciation." Even to understand the language when spoken 
was only got by practice. A young lady from the country, who 
was reproached with having seen on the Edinburgh stage some 
loose play, artlessly replied : " Indeed they did nothing wrong 
that I saw ; and as for what they said, it was high English, and I 
did not understand it." Dr. Beattie studied English from books 
like a dead language. To write it correctly cost him years of 
labour.' " The conversation of the Edinburgh authors," said 
Topham, " showed that they wrote English as a foreign tongue," 
for their spoken language was so unlike their written. 5 Some men 
were as careless of their accent as they were careful of their words. 
Hume's tone was always broad Scotch, but Scotch words he care- 
fully avoided.' 1 Others indulged in two styles and two accents, 
one for familiar life, the other for the pulpit, the court of Session, 
or the professor's chair. In all this there was a great and a strange 
variety Lord Kames, for instance, in his social hour spoke pure 
Scotch, though "with a tone not displeasing from its vulgarity ; " 
on the Bench his language approached to English. 7 His brother 
judge, Lord Auchinleck, on the other hand, clung to his mother 
tongue. He would not smooth or round his periods, or give up 
his broad Scotch, however vulgar it was accounted. The sturdy 
old fellow felt, no doubt, a contempt for that " compound of affecta- 
tion and pomposity " which some of his countrymen spoke a 
language which "no Englishman could understand." In their 
attempt to get rid of their accent they too often arrived at the 
young lady's High English, a mode of speaking far enough removed 
no doubt from the Scotch, but such as " made ' the fools who used 
it ' truly ridiculous." ' There were others who were far more suc- 

' Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth B Hume's Letters to Strahan, p. 6. 

Century, i. 169. ' Scotland and Scotsmen, etc., i. 211, ii. 544; 

'* Johnson's Works, viii. 464. and Tytler's Life of Lord Kames, ii. 240. 

3 Scotland and Scotsmen, etc., ii. 63. * Scotland and Scotsmen, etc., i. 167-170, ii. 

4 Forbes' Life aj Beattie, p. 243. 543. 

5 Letters from Edinburgh, p. 55. a Boswell's fohnson, ii. 159. Lord Jeffrey was 


cessful. " The conversation of the Scots," wrote Johnson, "grows 
every day less unpleasing to the English ; their peculiarities wear 
fast away; their dialect is likely to become in half a century provincial 
and rustic, even to themselves. The great, the learned, the 
ambitious, and the vain, all cultivate the English phrase, and the 
English pronunciation ; and in splendid companies Scotch is not 
much heard, except now and then from an old lady." : The old 
lady whom he chiefly had in his memory when he wrote this was 
probably the Duchess of Douglas. He had met her at Boswell's 
table. " She talks broad Scotch with a paralytick voice," he wrote 
to Mrs. Thrale, " and is scarce understood by her own countrymen." : 
Bosvvell himself, by the instruction of a player from Drury Lane, 
who had brought a company to Edinburgh, succeeded so well in 
clearing his tongue of his Scotch that Johnson complimented him 
by saying : " Sir, your pronunciation is not offensive." 1 

In their pursuit of English literature the Scotch proved as 
successful as in everything else which they took in hand. Whatever 
ill-will may have existed between the two nations, there was no 
grudging admiration shown in England for their authors. In 
popularity few writers of their time surpassed Thomson, Smollett, 
Hume, Robertson, John Home, Macpherson, Hugh Blair, Beattie, 
and Boswell ; neither had Robert Blair, Mallet, Kames, John 
Dalrymple, Henry Mackenzie, Monboddo, Adam Eerguson, and 
Watson, any reason to complain of neglect. If Adam Smith and 
Reid were not so popular as some of their contemporaries it was 
because they had written for the small class of thinkers ; though 
the Wealth of Nations, which was published little more than two 
years after Johnson's visit, was by the end of the century to reach 
its ninth edition. " This, I believe, is the historical age, and this 
the historical nation," Hume wrote proudly from Edinburgh. 4 He 
boasted that " the copy-money " given him for his History " much 
exceeded anything formerly known in England." It made him 
" not only independent but opulent." Robertson for his Charles V. 
received ,3,400, and ,400 was to be added on the publication of 
the second edition. 5 Blair for a single volume of his Sermons was 
paid ,6oo. 8 

Whatever ardour Scotchmen showed for English literature as 

accused "of having lost the broad Scotcli at 3 Boswell's Johnson, ii. 159. 

Oxford, and of having gained only the narrow 4 Hume's Letters to Stratum, p. 1 55. 

English." Cockburn's Life of Jeffrey, \. 46. ' /!> pp. xxx. 15. 

1 Works, ix. 159. * Piozzi Letters, i. 109. a Boswell's Johnson, iii. 98. 


men of letters, yet they never for one moment forgot their pride in 
their own country. In a famous club they had banded themselves 
together for the sake of doing away with a reproach which had 
been cast upon their nation. Just as down to the present time no 
Parliament has ventured to trust Ireland with a single regiment of 
volunteers, so Scotland one hundred years ago was not trusted with 
a militia. In the words of Burns, 

" Her lost militia fired her bluid." ' 

In 1759 a Bill for establishing this force had been brought into 
Parliament, and though Pitt acquiesced in the measure, it was 
thrown out by " the young Whigs." Most Englishmen probably 
felt with Horace Walpole, when he rejoiced that " the disaffected 
in Scotland could not obtain this mode of having their arms 
restored." a Two or three years later the literary men in Edinburgh, 
affronted by this refusal, formed themselves into a league of patriots. 
The name of The Militia Club, which they had at first thought of 
adopting, was rejected as too directly offensive. With a happy 
allusion to the part which they were to play in stirring up the fire 
and spirit of the country, they decided on calling themselves " The 
Poker." Andrew Crosbie, the original of Mr. Counsellor Pleydell, 
was humorously elected Assassin, and David Hume was added as 
his Assessor, "without whose assent nothing should be done."* It 
was urged with great force that Scotland was as much exposed as 
England to plunder and invasion. Why, it was asked, was she 
refused a militia when one had been granted to Cumberland and 
Westmoreland, and Lancashire ? Had not those countries con- 
tributed more adventurers to the forces of the Young Pretender 
than all the Lowlands ? " Why put a sword in the hands of 
foreigners for wounding the Scottish nation and name ? A name 
admired at home for fidelity, regaled [sic] in every clime for strict- 
ness of discipline, and dreaded for intrepidity." 4 In 1776 the Bill 
was a second time brought in, but was a second time rejected. " I 
am glad," said Johnson, "that the Parliament has had the spirit to 
throw it out." ~ a By this time it was not timidity only which caused 
the rejection. The English were touched in their pockets. It was 

1 T/ie Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer. * Andrew Henderson's Consideration on the 

2 Walpole 's Keign of George II., iii. 280. Scots Militia (ed. 1761), p. 26. 

3 Dr. Alexander Carlyle's Autobiography, pp. 5 'Bo^vfeM's^o/inson, iii. I. 
399, 49- 


maintained that as Scotland contributed so little to the land-tax, so 
if she needed a militia she ought to bear the whole expense herself. 
" What enemy, ' asked Johnson scornfully, " would invade Scotland 
where there is nothing to be got ? " It was not till the year 1793, 
in the midst of the alarms of a war with France, that the force was 
at last established, and Scotland in one more respect placed on an 
equality with England. 

In Edinburgh such a club as this, formed of all the eager active 
spirits in the place, could act with the greater vigour from the ease 
with which the members could meet. In whatever quarter of the 
town men lived, even if they had moved to the squares which had 
lately been built to the north and south, they were not much more 
widely separated than the residents in the Colleges ot Oxford. The 
narrowness of the limits in which they were confined is shown by 
the small number of hackney-coaches which served their wants. In 
London, in 1761, there were eight hundred; by 1784 they had 
risen to a thousand. ' J In Edinburgh there were but nine; and even 
these, it was complained, were rarely to be seen on the stand after 
three o'clock in the afternoon. It was in sedan chairs that visits of 
ceremony were paid; the bearers were Highlanders, as in London 
they were generally Irishmen.' 5 The dinner-hour was still so early 
that the meal of careless and cheerful hospitality was the supper. 
In 1763 fashionable people dined at two; twenty years later at four 
or even at five. 1 At the time of Johnson's visit three was probably 
the common hour. Dr. Carlyle describes the ease with which in 
his younger days a pleasant supper party was gathered together. 
" We dined where we best could, and by cadies ' we assembled our 
friends to meet us in a tavern by nine o'clock ; and a fine time it was 
when we could collect David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, 
Lord Elibank, and Drs. Blair and Jardine on an hour's warning."' 
Though the Scotch were " religious observers of hospitality," 7 yet 
a stranger did not readily get invited to their favourite meal. " To 
be admitted to their suppers is a mark of their friendship. At them 
the restraints of ceremony are banished, and you see people really 
as they are." The Scotch ladies, it was noticed, at these cheerful 
but prolonged repasts drank more wine than an English woman 

1 Boswell's_/i7^i0tt, ii. 431. See also Annual ' //'. p. 662. 

Register for 1776, i. 140. ' K<>r a penny :\ cadie was obliged to carry a 

3 Dodsley's London utiil //.v Environs, iii. 124, letter to the remotest part of the town, 

and lios well's Johnson, iv. 330. " Dr. Carlyle's Aiitobiography, p. 275. 

3 Arnot's History of Edinhurgli , p. 598. ~ Gentleman' s Magazine fo* 1766, p. 168. 


could well bear, " but the climate required it." The " patriotic 
Knox" describes the inhabitants of Edinburgh as being "not only 
courteous, obliging, open, and hospitable, but well-inclined to 
the bottle." It was not to the climate that he attributed this joyous 
devotion, but " to their social dispositions and the excellence of 
their wines." Boswell has left us a description of a supper which 
he enjoyed at Hume's new house in St. Andrew's Square. He had 
1 )r. Robertson and Lord Kames for his fellow-guests, and three 
sorts of ice-creams among the dishes. " What' think you of the 
northern Epicurus style ? " he asked. He complained, however, 
that he could recollect no conversation. " Our writers here are 
really not prompt on all occasions as those of London." He had 
been spoilt by the talk in the taverns of Fleet Street and the Turk's 
Head Club, and was discontented because he did not find in St. 
Andrew's Square a Johnson, a Burke, a Wilkes, and a Beauclerk. 

Into Hume's pleasant house Johnson unhappily never entered. 4 
He even thought that his friend Dr. Adams, the Master of Pem- 
broke College, had done wrong when he had met by invitation 
" that infidel writer" at dinner, and " had treated him with smooth 
civility." 5 Yet a man who could yield to the temptation of the talk 
of Jack Wilkes had no right to stand aloof from David Hume. We 
should like to know what he would have thought of that philosopher's 
soupc a la rcine made from a receipt which he had copied in his own 
neat hand, or of his " beef and cabbage (a charming dish) and 
old mutton and old claret, in which," he boasted, " no man excelled 
him." Perhaps, however, if Johnson could have been persuaded to 
taste the claret, old as it was, he would have shaken his head over 
it and called it "poor stuff."" The sheep-head broth he would 
certainly have refused, though one Mr. Keith did speak of it 
Tor eight days after, 7 and the Duke de Nivernois would have bound 
himself apprentice to Hume's lass to learn it. 8 " The stye of that 

1 Topham's Letters from Edinburgh, p. 66. fourteen feet high. The kitchen and the cellars 

- Knox's Tour, p. 9. were evidently contrived fur a man who intended 

3 Letters of Bosu'ell to Temple, p. 203. to boast with justice of his dinners and his wine. 

' This house for many years not much less From the windows of every floor there must have 

than seventy, I was told has been occupied as a been an uninterrupted view of the shores of Fife, 

tailor's shop. By the kindness of the heads of the across the Firth of Forth, and of the house in 

firm, Messrs. Lander and Ilardie, I was shown Kirkaldy, where Adam Smith was living. 

over the building. Though it has been a good ' Boswell's_/a4;z.w, ii. 441. 

deal altered for the purposes of business it is still c Ib. iii. 381. 

substantially the same solid stone house which ' Eight days is, I suppose, one of Hume's 

Hume in his prosperity built for the closing years Gallicisms. 

of his life.. The rooms are lofty, being about " Letters of Hume to Strahan, p. 116. 


fattest of Epicurus's hogs " he failed to visit. " You tell me," wrote 
the great Gibbon to a friend who was at Edinburgh just at the time 
of Johnson's arrival, "you tell me of a long list of Dukes, Lords, 
and Chieftains of renown to whom you are introduced ; were I with 
you I should prefer one. David to them all." 1 Boswell could easily 
have brought the two men together, intimate as he was with both. 
Early in his life he was able to boast that one of them had visited 
him in the forenoon and the other in the afternoon of the same day." 
Hume's conversation perhaps was not after the fashion which 
Johnson liked. It certainly would not have come recommended to 
him by his broad Scotch accent. Nevertheless there was that about 
it which endeared it to his friends. For innocent mirth and 
agreeable raillery he was thought to be unmatched/' Adam Smith 
has celebrated his constant pleasantry. In his wit there was not 
the slightest tincture of malignity. 1 But Johnson would have 
nothing to do with him/' In Boswell's house in James's Court, 
that Sunday he spent there in Dr. Robertson's company, he said 
"something much too rough both as to Mr. Hume's head and 
heart," which Boswell thought well to suppress. In the quiet still- 
ness of that summer sabbath day in Edinburgh, the strong loud 
voice might almost have been carried across the narrow valley 
to St. Andrew's Square, and startled the philosopher in his retire- 

Neither did Johnson see Adam Smith, who in Hume's house 
had his room whenever he chose to occupy it. To meet a famous 
stranger he would, we may well believe, have willingly crossed the 
Firth from his house in Kirkaldy. But the two men had once met 
in London, and " we did not take to each other," said Johnson. 
Had he been more tolerant, and sought the society of these two 
great Scotchmen, he would have seen in Scotland the best which 
Scotland had to show. Even as it was, in his visit to the capital 
and the seats of the other universities, in his tour through Lowlands, 
Highlands and Isles, he saw perhaps as great a variety of men and 
manners as had been seen in that country by any Englishman up to 
his time. 

' Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, ii. 1 10. Puttick and Simpson's catalogue for July 30, 

2 Letters of Boswell to Temple, p. 151. 1886, Johnson was once Hume's guest. The 

3 Dr. Carlyle's Autobiography, p. 276. compilers of auction catalogues, however, aie 

4 Hume's Letters to Stralian, p. xl. not infallible as editors, and often make strange 
' If we can trust the description of one of mistakes. 

Hume's autograph letters (No. 1105) in Messrs. 



On Friday, August 6th, 1773, Dr. Johnson set off from London 
on his famous tour to the Western Islands of Scotland. His 
companion as far as Newcastle was Robert Chambers, Principal of 
New Inn Hall, Oxford, who had been lately appointed one of the 
new judges for India, and was going down to his native town to 
take leave of his family. The two friends travelled in a post- 
chaise. " Life has not many better things than this," said Johnson 
once when he was driven rapidly along in one with Boswell. 1 It 
was too costly a pleasure for him to indulge in often unless he 
could find a companion to share the expense. The charge for a 
chaise and pair of horses for two passengers from London to 
Edinburgh could scarcely have been kept under twenty-two 
pounds." The weather was bright and hot. :i At Newcastle 
Chambers's place in the chaise was taken by a fellow-townsman 
who was destined to go far beyond him in the career of the law- 
William Scott, afterwards Lord Stowell, the great judge of the 
High Court of Admiralty. The travellers entered Scotland by 
Berwick-on-Tweed, passing near to those nine wells which gave 
their name to the estate which had come down to Uavid Hume's 
father through many generations. Very likely they dined at 
Dunbar, that " high and windy town," and thought, as they crossed 
the Brocksburn, how Cromwell's horse and foot charged across it 
in the mingled light of the harvest-moon and the early dawn on 
that September morning one hundred and twenty-three years before. 
Their next stage would bring them to Haddington, past the ruined 
Abbey where nearly a hundred years later that great Scotchman, 
Johnson's foremost champion, was often with a contrite and almost 
broken heart to seek his wife's grave in the desolate chancel. As 
they drove on they passed by the wide plain, shut in by the sea on 
one side and by a morass on the other, over which, only twenty-eight 

1 Boswell's fohnson, ii. 453. paid at the turnpikes amounted to a considerable 
" The charge for a chaise and pair was nine- sum in a long journey. The duty was sub- 
pence a mile ; in some districts more. There sequently increased. See Mostyn Armstrong's 
was a duty on each horse of one penny per mile. Actual Survey, etc., p. 4, and Paterson's liritish 
The driver expected a shilling or eighteen pence Itinerary, vol. i. preface, p. vii. 
for each stage of ten or twelve miles, and always 3 See the Table of Weather in the Gentleman's 
found good reasons for asking for more. The tolls Magazine tot 1774, p. 290. 


years earlier, on another misty morning in September, the rude 
Highlanders had chased Cope's English Dragoons in shameful 
and headlong flight. Evening had overtaken the travellers by this 
time, so that they could not have seen "the one solitary thorn bush 
round which lay the greatest number of slain," or the grey tower 
of the church of Preston Pans, whence the afternoon before the 
battle, young Alexander Carlyle had looked down upon the two 
armies. 1 They passed Pinkie, where the Protector Somerset's 
soldiers had made such a savage massacre of the routed Scotch ; 
and Carberry Hill, where Mary took her last farewell of Both well 
as she gave herself up to the Scottish lords. They passed, too, the 
serfs of Tranent and Preston Pans, " the colliers and salters who 
were in a state of slavery and bondage, bound to the collieries or 
salt-works for life." : 

Entering Edinburgh by the road which goes near Holy rood 
House, and driving along the Canongate, they alighted at the 
entrance to White Horse Close, at the end of which stood the 
White Horse Inn. The sign, the crest of the house of Hanover, 
had probably been adopted on the accession of George I., and 
was a proof of loyalty to the reigning family. In London in 
the year 1761 there were forty-nine alleys, lanes and yards which 
were so called/' It was, however, said that the name had been 
given as a memorial of a white horse which, by winning a 
race on Leith Sands, had saved its master, the inn-keeper, from 
ruin. 4 According to the Scotch custom the inn was generally 
known not by its sign, but by the name of its landlord. 5 Thus 
Boswell calls this house Boyd's Inn. In the Edinburgh Directory 
for 1773-4 we find under the letter 13, at the head of the Stablers, 
" Boyd, James, canongate head." In the present time, when an inn, 
however small, assumes the dignified title of Hotel, we may admire 
the modesty of these Edinburgh innkeepers, not one of whom 
pretended to be anything more than a stabler. In fact they 
scarcely deserved any higher name ; their houses were on a level 

1 Dr. Alexander Carlyle's Autobiography, p. the White Horse Inn, Piccadilly, was kicked 

137. The tree still remains the solitary memo- out of a feast of the Independent Electors of 

rial of the fight. Westminster, because he was discovered to be 

* It was not till 1799 that by 39 Geo. III. taking notes of some Jacobite toasts. Gentle- 

c. 56, they were declared free. Cockburn's Me- man's Magazine for 1747, p. 151. 
mortals, p. 78, and BoswelPs Johnson, iii. 202, 4 Chambers's Traditions of Edinburgh, p. 

. I. 190. 

3 Dodsley's London and its Environs, vi. 316. 5 Gentleman's Magazine for 1771, P- 544- 

In March, 1747, one Mr. Williams, master of 


with the inn at Rochester where the two carriers in Falstaff's time 
passed so restloss a night. A traveller who had stayed in this house 
a year or two before Johnson's visit, described it as being " crowded 
and confused. The master lives in the stable, the mistress is not 
equal to the business. You must not expect breakfast before nine 
o'clock, and you must think yourself happy if you do not find every 


room fresh mopped." The date of 1683 inscribed upon the large 
window above the outside steps, 2 .showed that even in Johnson's 
time it was an old house. For the whole of the eighteenth century 
it was one of the chief starting places for the stage-coaches. It 
sank later on into a carrier's inn, says Sir Walter Scott, " and has 
since been held unworthy even of that occupation. It was a base 
hovel." Yet James Boyd, who kept it, retired with a fortune 

1 Gentleman's Magazine for 1771, p. 543. Edinburgh, p. 187, says that "the date is de- 

* J. and H.'s Storer's Descriptions of Hdin- ficient in the decimal figure 16 3." 
burgh. Dr. Chambers, in his Traditions of 3 Croker's Bonvell, 8vo. ed. p. 270. 


of several thousand pounds. That he: possessed napery to the value 
of five hundred pounds is stated by Chambers to be a well-authen- 
ticated fact. " A large room in the house was the frequent scene of 
the marriages of runaway English couples. On one of the windows 
were scratched the words : 

'Jeremiah and Sarah Bentham, 1768.'"' 

It was from this miserable inn that Johnson, on August i4th, 
sent the following note to Boswell's house : 

" Mr. Johnson sends his compliments to Mr. Jioswell, being just arrived at 

" Saturday night." 

Boswell went to him directly, and learnt from Scott that " the 
Doctor had unluckily had a bad specimen of Scottish cleanliness. 
He then drank no fermented liquor. He asked to have his 
lemonade made sweeter ; upon which the waiter, with his greasy 
fingers, lifted a lump of sugar, and put it into it. The Doctor, in 
indignation, threw it out of the window. Scott said he was afraid 
that he would have knocked the waiter down." Boswell at once 
carried off Johnson- to his own house. Scott he left behind with 
the sincere regret that he had not also a room for him. Could the 
future eminence of the great judge have been foreseen, or had his 
" amiable manners" been generally known, surely some one would 
have been found eager to welcome him as a guest and rescue him 
from the Canongate Stabler. "He was one of the pleasantest men 
I ever knew," wrote Sir Walter Scott, fifty-five years later, when 
he met him at a dinner at Richmond Park, " looking very frail and 
even comatose." He lived some while longer, and did not die 
till the memory of this jaunt, and of everything else had been lost 
in the forgetfulness in which his mind sank beneath the burthen of 
fourscore years and ten." Let us hope that on his first visit to 
Edinburgh, like Matthew Bramble, " he got decent lodgings in the 
house of a widow gentlewoman." 

1 Chambevs's Tiaditions of Edinburgh, p. 191. thirteen baronets, and four commanders-in-chief. 

Perhaps this was Jeremy Uentham's father, who The Edinburgh Directory for 1773-4 contains, 

two years earlier had married for the second however, the names of only about a dozen peers 

time : what was his wife's Christian name I have and peeresses. 

not been able to ascertain. The son did not a Lock hart's Lift- of Scott, ix. 244. 

visit Edinburgh in 1768. Dr. Chambers gives :> He died on January 28, 1836. 

on p. 318 a list of the great people living in the ' Ilumpliiy Clinkfi; ii. 224. Lodging-house 

Canongate about the year 1769. According to keepers are entered in the Edinburgh Directory 

it there were two dukes, sixteen earls, two as Room-Setters and Boarders. Some were 

countesses, seven barons, seven lords of session, both, others only Room-Setters. 



The old inn still stands, ;i picturesque ruin and an interesting 
memorial of the discomfort of a long race of wandering strangers. 
No one here ever repeated with emotion, either great or small, 
Shenstone's lines : 

" Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round, 

Where'er his stages may have been, 
May sigh to think lie still has found 

The warmest welcome at an inn."' 

With a. little care it could have been made a. place where " a man 
might take his ease in his inn," for it stood aloof from the noise of 
the street, was well-built and was sufficiently roomy. An outside 
stone staircase, Which after a few steps turned right and left, led up 
to the first iloor, where doubtless, according to the common Scotch 
custom, the principal rooms were placed. With its turrets and its 
gables it must have looked pleasant enough to the young runaway 
couples as they hurried in from the Canongate, and passed the out- 
side staircases and open galleries of the houses on each side of the 
Close, and so went up to the large room where many a name was 
scratched with a diamond ring on the pane. " And they are gone," 
gone like the lovers of St. Agnes' Eve. 2 


" Boswell," wrote Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, " has very handsome 
and spacious rooms ; level with the ground on one side of the 
house, and on the other four stories high." At this time, he was 
living in James's Court, on the northern side of the Lawnmarket, 
having lately removed from Chessel's Buildings in the Canongate. 
It is not easy for the stranger who passes from the thronged street 
under the low archway into that quiet, but gloomy, and even 
shabby-looking court, to picture to himself the gay and lively 
company which once frequented it. Now ragged, bare-footed 

1 Johnson repeated these lines with great 
emotion at the excellent inn at Chapel-Mouse in 
Oxfordshire. Boswell's_/flAKJO, ii. 452. 

" Since writing the above I have learnt with 
great pleasure that this interesting but ruinous 
old building will not only be preserved, but pre- 
served to good uses. It has been purchased by 
Dr. A. II. F. Harbour and his sister Mrs. Whyte, 
and by them presented to the Edinburgh Social 

Union. It will be put into a state of thorough 
repair, and let out (o poor tenants on the plan 
followed by Miss Octavia Hill in London. I 
am informed that the two sides of the Close had 
been repaired by the Social Union before my 
visit, and that the pleasant outside staircases 
and open galleries which caught my eye were 
its work. 



hanging out 
garments of 

children are playing about ; in some of the windows there are broken 
and patched panes of glass, while high above one's head, from the 
different storeys, are 

to dry 


sorts and hues, on a 
curious kind of frame- 
work, let down by a 
pulley and string, till 
it stands out square 
from the wall. Some 
of the houses are 
coloured with a yel- 
low wash, in others 
the stones round the 
windows and at the 
corners are painted 
red. The uncoloured 
stone is a grey dark- 
ened by years of 
smoke. The lower 
windows are guarded 
by iron gratings. On 
the southern, or Lawn- 
market side, a block of 
building juts out, and 
makes a division in 
the Court. This pro- 
jection looks as an- 
cient as any part, and 
was doubtless there in 
those old days when 
the place was inha- 
bited by a select set 
of gentlemen, " who JAMES , S COURT . 

kept a clerk to record 

their names and proceedings, had a scavenger of their own, clubbed 
in many public measures, and had balls and assemblies among them- 
selves." ] It must have pleasantly recalled to Boswell the chambers 

1 Clmmbers's Traditions of Edinburgh, p. 68. 


which had been lent him in the Temple that summer in which he 
first became acquainted with Johnson, for it, too, was a nest of 
lawyers. There were inhabiting it at this time thirteen advocates, 
among them Lord Elibank, seven Writers to the Signet and Clerks 
of Session, a Commissioner, and two first clerks of advocates. The 
other householders were only six in number : two physicians, one of 
whom was Sir John Pringle, 1 the President of the Royal Society of 
London, a teller in the Old Bank, a teacher of French, a dancing- 
mistress, and a gentlewoman. Pringle, who was Boswell's intimate 
friend, was one of " the three topics " which he begged Johnson to 
avoid at his father's house Presbyterianism and Whiggism being 
the other two. If any one of these subjects were introduced an 
altercation was certain to follow, for all three were as dear to Lord 
Auchinleck as they were distasteful to Johnson. Here Hume had 
lived till very lately in a house " which was very cheerful and even 
elegant, but was too small," he complained, " to display his great 
talents for cookery." Nevertheless it had been the one spot to 
which, when abroad, his heart untravelled had fondly turned. 
Even in the palace at Fontainebleau, while fresh from the flattery 
of the three young princes who were in turn to be kings of France, 
in this high tide of his fortune it was for " his easy-chair and his 
retreat in James's Court that twice or thrice a day" he longed. 
Here he had welcomed Benjamin Franklin, here Adam Smith had 
been his frequent guest, and here he had offered a shelter to 
Rousseau. In his absence from Edinburgh Dr. Blair had been 
his tenant, and here, no doubt, had written some of those sermons 
and lectures which were to attain so wide a popularity, and then 
to sink into as deep a neglect. The time once was when Blair's 
shrine would have drawn a crowd of pilgrims. 

Hume and Boswell had for a short time been very near neigh- 
bours, as it was in the same block of buildings 2 that they lived. 
If the elder man had entertained the American patriot, Franklin, 
the younger had entertained the Corsican patriot, Pascal Paoli. 
He could boast, moreover, of the distinguished guests who thronged 
his house during Johnson's two visits, both at his first coming and 

1 Pringle seems to have kept on a house in Hume had once lived in Jack's Land, in the 
Edinburgh though he was for the most part Canongate. A land of thirteen stories, such as 
living at this time in London. See Hume's was shown to Johnson at the foot of the Post- 
Lelters to Strahan, p. 117. house Stairs would contain twenty-six houses 

2 The Scotch called each set of rooms on two on every floor, 
every floor a house, and each block a land. Thus 


on his return from the Hebrides. Judges, and advocates who 
were destined one day to sit on the bench, the Deputy Commander- 
in-Chief, men and women of high birth, authors, divines, physicians, 
all came to see and hear the famous Englishman. We can picture 
to ourselves the sedan-chairs passing in under the low gateway, 
bearing the fine ladies and gentlemen who came to attend " the 
Icvfc which he held from ten o'clock in the morning till one or two." 
The echo of the strong loud voice with the slow deliberate 
utterance still almost seems to sound in our ears as we wander 
about in this dreary spot. " I could not attend him," writes 
Boswell, " being obliged to be in the Court of Session ; but my 
wife was so good as to devote the greater part of the morning to 
the endless task of pouring out tea for my friend and his visitors." 
More than one caller, as he gazed on the huge frame, the 
scarred face, and the awkward strange movements of the man of 
whom they had heard so much, might have exclaimed with Lord 
Elibank, that " hardly anything seemed more improbable than to 
see Dr. Johnson in Scotland." What Edinburgh said and thought 
of him we should greatly like to know. But no letters recording 
his visit seem to be extant. Even the very house has disappeared. 
Time, which has spared everything else in this old Court, has not 
spared it. More than thirty years ago it was burnt to the ground. 
We should have liked to wander about the rooms, and wonder 
which was the bedchamber that Mrs. Boswell, "to show all respect 
to the Sage," so politely resigned to him ; and where it was that 
Veronica, that precocious babe of four months, by wishing " to be 
held close to him, gave a proof from simple nature that his figure 
was not horrid." Where, we should have asked, was the dinner 
given him at which Mrs. Boswell did her best "to aid wisdom 
and wit by administering agreeable sensations to the palate " ? 
Where, too, were the carpets spread on which he let the wax of 
the candles drop, by turning them with their heads downwards 
when they did not burn bright enough ? In what closet did 
Boswell keep his books, whence on Sunday, with pious purpose, 
Johnson took down Ogden's Sermons, and retired with them to his 
own room ? They did not, however, detain him long, and he soon 
rejoined the company. Which was the breakfast-room where Sir 
William Forbes introduced to him the blind scholar and poet, 
Dr. Blacklock ? " Dear Dr. Blacklock, I am glad to see you," he 
said, with a most humane complacency. " I looked on him with 


reverence," lie wrote to Mrs. Thrale. It has all utterly passed away ; 
Forbes himself has been Sir Walter Scott's "lamented Forbes" ' 
for more than fourscore years. All has passed away ; not only the talk 
about Burke, and Garrick, and Hume, and Whitefield, and genius, 
and witchcraft, and the comparative difficulty of verse-making and 
dictionary-making ; but even the very walls which might have 
caught it in its echoes. Where this famous old house once stood 
now stands a modern bank, contrasting but ill in its more elaborate 
architecture with the severe, and even stern, simplicity of the 
ancient buildings. Nevertheless we are at no loss to picture to 
ourselves the home of Hume and Boswell. Their land occupied 
one half of the northern side of the Court ; the other half, which 
no doubt corresponded with it in almost every respect, happily 
escaped the flames. It is so solidly built that if it is spared by the 
rage of fire and of modern improvement, it has little to fear from 
time. Its situation, looking down as it does with its northern 
front on the Mound, and the pleasant gardens in the valley below, 
has kept it from sinking in public estimation so much as most of 
the neighbouring buildings. It has indeed seen better clays, but it 
has not lost all the outward signs of respectability ; its panes are 
neither broken nor patched. The ground-floor, which was, we may 
assume, on the same plan as Boswell's house, is occupied by a book- 
binder, 2 who courteously showed me all over it. There were traces 
left in this busy workshop of past splendour, and I could see 
how handsome and spacious the rooms had once been. In the 
windows were deep recesses, where it must have been pleasant 
enough on a bright summer's day to sit in the cool shade and look 
out over the heads of the elm trees waving below, across the 
sparkling waters of the Forth, on the hills of Fife in the far distance. 
A stone staircase, furnished with iron gates, led clown from the 
level of the Court to the street four storeys below, where the foun- 
dations of this lofty pile are laid in the rock. The staircase had 
its occupant, for at one of the windows a mat-maker was busy at 
his trade. 3 

There is no memorial to remind passers-by of the men who have 
made James's Court so famous. The stranger, as he climbs up the 
Lawnmarket to the Castle, is little likely to notice the obscure 

1 Marmion. Introduction to Canto iv. 3 For my authorities for some of the state - 

a Mr. Alexander Grieve. I find a bookbinder ments in this note see my Letters of David Hume 

of the same name living in Bell's Wynd in 1773. to ll'illiaiu Strahan, pp. 116-9. 

Edinburgh Directory for 1773-4, Appendix, p. 5. 


archway through which so gay and bright and learned a company 
was ever passing to and fro. In the public gardens Allan Ramsay, 
John Wilson and Adam Black have each their statue. Viscount 
Melville's column lifts its head in St. Andrew's Square, far above 
David Hume's modest house, and in its inscription, in all prob- 
ability, lies. The virtues and the glories of George IV. are lavishly 
commemorated. Even good Queen Charlotte is not suffered to 
be forgotten. In Chambers Street the name of the founder of 
Chambers Journal is meant to live. On the finest site in all 
Edinburgh the insignificance of the fifth Duke of Buccleugh will 
struggle for immortality. We look in vain for the statue of David 
Hume, of Adam Smith, and of James Boswell. What street, what 
square, what bridge bear their names ? Where does Edinburgh 
proudly boast to the stranger that she is the birth place of the 
philosopher whose name is great in the history of the world, and 
of the biographer whose work has never been equalled ? W'here 
does she make it known that to her ancient city the author of the 
Wealth of Nations retired to spend the closing years of his life and 
to die ? If no nobler monuments can be raised, surely some bronze 
tablet or graven stone might keep fresh the memory of the spot 
where Adam Smith had his chamber, where Benjamin Franklin 
came to visit David Hume, where Rousseau was offered a shelter, 
and where James Boswell's guests were Pascal Paoli and Samuel 


It was in good company that Johnson, on the morning of 
Monday, August 16, " walked out to see some of the things which 
they had to show in Edinburgh," for he was under the guidance of 
the historian of Scotland. " I love Robertson," Johnson had said 
a few years earlier, "and I won't talk of his book." If Boswell 
had reported any part of this saying we may hope that it was only 
the first half, for he who neglects the author makes but a poor 
recompense by loving the man. At all events, Robertson was not 
troubled with diffidence, for at Holyrood " he fluently harangued " 
his companion on the scenes described in his History. No doubt 
he told many of those anecdotes for which Johnson that morning 


had declared his love as they breakfasted togetlur, and look care not 
to attempt " to weave them into a system." As they passed into the 
Lawn market they had not before them that wide expanse which in 
the present day makes so noble an end to the High Street. 
The view was obstructed by the Weigh House, the Lucken- 
booths, the Tolbooth, anil the Guard House. 1 At the Weigh 
House the boast, perhaps, was made that so great was the 
trade of the town that the public weighing-machine which was 
there kept brought in no less than a sum of ,500 every year. 
At the Tolbooth and the Guard House, that " long low ugly 
building," which looked like " a black snail crawling up the High 
Street," 1 ' something, perhaps, was said of the Porteous riots. But 
the real story of the Heart of Mid- Lothian could only have been 
told them by that little child of scarce two years in the College 
Wynd, how the wild mob on that September night, seven-and-thirty 
years before, burnt down the massive gate of the jail, and dragged 
their wretched prisoner by torchlight to the gallows, and how Jeanie 
Deans could not tell a lie even to save her sister from a shameful 
death. There was no one but this bright-eyed boy who could have 
even pointed out in the Luckenbooths the stall where poor Peter 
Peebles and Paul Plainstanes had for years carried on " that great 
line of business as mercers and linendrapers," which in the end led 
to a lawsuit that is famous all the world over. Having no one to 
tell them of all this they passed on through Parliament Close, 
" which new-fangled affectation has termed a square," :! to the 
Parliament House, which still showed " the grave grey hue that 
had been breathed over it by one hundred and fifty years," and 
which was still free from the disgrace of " bright freestone anil 
contemptible decorations." The " sorrow and indignation," which 
the restorer's wanton changes aroused troubled a later generation.' 
Here it was that the Court of Session sat, the High Court of Justice 
of Scotland. It was in these August days empty of lawyers, for the 
Vacation had just begun ; but Johnson on his return saw it also in 
term time, and thought "the pleading too vehement and too much 
addressed to the passions of the judges. It was not the Areopagus," 
he said. Here Henry Erskine, the brother of the famous Chan- 
cellor, slipped a shilling into Boswell's hands, who had introduced 

1 See ante, p. 52. ' Cockburn's Memorials, p. 106, and Heart 

'* Heart of Mid-Lothian, ed. 1860, i. 247. of Mid-Lotluan, ii. 117. 

3 Redgauntlet, ed. 1860, i. 253. 


him to Johnson, saying that it was for the sight of his bear, and 
here Lord Auchinleck, seeing the great man enter, whispered to 
one of his brethren on the Bench that it was Ursa Major. In the 
Outer Hall had once sat the ancient Parliament of Scotland. Here 
it was that Lord Belhaven, at perhaps its last meeting, made that 
pathetic speech which drew tears from the audience. Here every 
day during term time there was a very Babel of a Court of Justice. 
Like Westminster Hall of old it was the tribunal of many judges, 
as well as the gathering ground of advocates, solicitors, suitors, 
witnesses, and idlers in general. Here it was that "the Macer 
shouted with all his well-remembered brazen strength of lungs : 
" Poor Peter Peebles versus Plainstanes, per Dumtoustie et Tough : 
Maister Da-a-niel Dumtoustie." Here it was that a famous but 
portly wag of later days, " Peter " Robinson, seeing Scott with his 
tall conical white head passing through, called out to the briefless 
crowd about the fire-place, " Hush, boys, here comes old Peveril 
I see the Peak." Scott looked round and replied, " Ay, ay, my 
man, as weel Peveril o' the Peak ony clay as Peter o' the Painch " 
(paunch). 1 Here Thomas Carlyle, a student of the University, 
not yet fourteen years old, on the afternoon of the November day 
on which he first saw Edinburgh, " was dragged in to a scene " 
which he never forgot : 

" An immense hall, dimly lighted from the top of the walls, and perhaps with 
candles burning in it here and there, all in strange chiaroscuro, and filled with what 
I thought (exaggeratively) a thousand or two of human creatures, all astir in a 
boundless buzz of talk, and simmering about in every direction, some solitary, some 
in groups. By degrees I noticed th;it some were in wig and black gown, some not, 
but in common clothes, all well dressed ; that here and there on the sides of the 
hall, were little thrones with enclosures, and steps leading up, red-velvet figures 
sitting in said thrones, and the black-gowned eagerly speaking to them ; advocates 
pleading to judges as I easily understood. How they could be heard in such a 
grinding din was somewhat a mystery. Higher up on the walls, stuck there like 
swallows in their nests, sate other humbler figures. These I found were the sources 
of certain wildly plangent lamentable kinds of sounds or echoes which from time to 
time pierced the universal noise of feet and voices, and rose unintelligibly above it, 
as if in the bitterness of incurable woe. Criers of the Court, I gradually came to 
understand. And this was Themis in her ' Outer House,' such a scene of chaotic 
din and hurlyburly as I had never figured before." 2 

Here every year, on the evening of the King's birthday, there 
was a scene of loyal riot. At the cost of the city funds, some fifteen 
hundred guests, on the invitation of the magistrates, " roaring, 

1 Lockhart's Scott, vii. 124. * Reminiscences, by Thomas Carlylo, ii. 5. 


drinking, toasting, and quarrelling," drank the royal healths to a 
late hour of the night. " The wreck and the fumes of that hot 
and scandalous night" tainted the air of the Court for a whole 
week. 1 From the Hall our travellers passed into the Inner House, 
where the fifteen judges sat together as " a Court of Review." 
Like Carlyle, Johnson saw ' great Law Lords this and that, great 
advocates, alors cclcbrcs, as Thiers has it." There were Hailes, and 
Kames, and Monboddo, on the Bench, and Henry Dundas, Solicitor 
General. The judges wore long robes of scarlet faced with white, 
but though their dignity was great, their salaries were small when 
compared with those paid to their brethren in Westminster Hall. 
The President had but ,1.300 a year, and each of the fourteen 
Lords of Session but 700. Six of them, among whom was 
Boswell's father, received each ^300 more as a Commissioner of 
Justiciary." The room, or rather "den," in which they sat, "was 
so cased in venerable dirt that it was impossible to say whether it 
had ever been painted. Dismal though the hole was, the old 
fellows who had been bred there never looked so well anywhere 
else." 3 

In the same great pile of buildings as the Law Courts is the 
Advocates' Library, "of which Dr. Johnson took a cursory view." 
He, no doubt, " respectfully remembered " there its former librarian, 
Thomas Ruddiman, "that excellent man and eminent scholar," just 
as he remembered him a few days later at Laurencekirk, the scene 
of his labours as a schoolmaster. Perhaps a second time he 
"regretted that his farewell letter to the Faculty of Advocates when 
he resigned the office of their Librarian, was not, as it should have 
been, in Latin." According to Rudcliman's successor, David Hume, 
it was but "a petty office of forty or fifty guineas a year," yet 
" a genteel one " too. When that great writer came to write his 
letter of resignation, he used the curtest of English, and took care to 
express his contempt for the Curators. Two or three years earlier 
they had censured him for buying some French books, which they 
accounted " indecent and unworthy of a place in a learned library," 
and he had not forgiven them. 4 It was in the Laigh (or Under) 
Parliament House beneath, in which at this time were deposited 
the records of Scotland, that Johnson, " rolling about in this old 

1 Cockburn's Memorials, p. 69. separate chambers. Cockburn's memorials, pp. 

2 Court and City Register for 1769, p. 142. loo, 244. 

' From 1808 the judges began to sit in two 4 Hume's Letters to Strahan, p. xxvi. 


magazine of antiquities," uttered those memorable words which 
have overcome the reluctance or the indolence of many an author : 
" A man may write at anytime if he will set himself doggedly to it." 
It was but a step from the Parliament House to the great church 
of St. Giles. Perhaps Johnson went round by the eastern end, 
and mourned over the fate which had befallen Dunedin's Cross 
less than twenty years before. A full century and more was to 
pass away before " the work of the Vandals " was undone, as far as 
it could be undone, by the pious affection of one of the greatest of 
Scotchmen.' Perhaps he turned to the west, and passed, little 
recking it, over the grave of John Knox. Even Boswell, Edin- 
burgh-born though he was, did not know where the great Reformer 
lay buried, and a few days later asked where the spot was. " ' 1 
hope in the highway,' Dr. Johnson burst out." In the pavement 
of Parliament Close, a " way of common trade," a small stone in- 
scribed "I. K. 1572," marks where he rests. St. Giles' was at 
this time " divided into four places of Presbyterian worship. 
' Come,' said Johnson jocularly to Dr. Robertson, ' let me see what 
was once a church.'" Writing to Mrs. Thrale the next day he 
said : " I told Robertson I wished to see the cathedral because it 
had once been a church." Its " original magnificence," the loss of 
which Boswell justly lamented, has been partly restored by the 
lavish changes of late years. Nevertheless, the student of history 
may in his turn lament that in this restoration there has of necessity 
disappeared much that was interesting. "There was swept away, 
with as much indifference as if it had been of yesterday, that plain, 
square, galleried apartment," which, as the meeting-place of the 
General Assembly, " had beheld the best exertions of the best men 
in the Kingdom ever since the year 1640." Jenny Geddes and 
her stool, moreover, are reluctant to answer the summons of the 
imagination in a scene which she herself would scarcely have 
recognized. Johnson went into only one of the four divisions, the 
New, or the High Church, as it was beginning to be called. Here 
Blair was preaching those sermons which passed through editions 
almost innumerable, and now can be bought in their calf binding 
for a few pence at almost any bookstall. The New Church was 
formed out of the ancient choir. In it were ranged the seats of 
the King, the judges, and the magistrates of the city. When 
Johnson saw it, " it was shamefully dirty. He said nothing at the 

1 Mr. Gladstone restored it in 1885. 2 Cockburn's Life of Lord Jeffrey, i. 182. 



time ; but when he came to the great door of the Royal Infirmary, 
where upon a board was this inscription, ' Clean your feet,' he turned 
about slily and said, ' There is no occasion for putting this at 
the doors of your churches. 1 ' Pennant also had noticed "the 
slovenly and indecent manner in which Presbytery kept the houses 
of God. In many parts of Scotland," he said, "our Lord seems 
still to be worshipped in a stable, and often in a very wretched 
one." ' Nevertheless, it seemed likely that some improvement 
would soon be made, and that orthodoxy and dirt would not be 
held inseparable companions. In one or two highly favoured spots 
the broom and scrubbing-brush had, perhaps, already made their 
appearance ; for according to Smollett "the good people of Edin- 
burgh no longer thought dirt and cobwebs essential to the house 
of God."- It might still have been impossible "for the united 
rhetoric of mankind to prevail with Jack to make himself clean ; " 
yet example must at last have an effect. Scotchmen had travelled 
and had returned from their travels, and no doubt had brought 
back a certain love for decency and cleanliness even in churches. 
In one respect, it was noticed, they surpassed their neighbours. 
Their conduct during service was more becoming. " They did 
not make their bows and cringes in the middle of their very 
prayers as was done in England." They always waited till the 
sermon was over and the blessing given before they looked round 
and made their civilities to their friends and persons of distinction. 4 
I inquired in vain when I was in Edinburgh for the Post-house 
Stairs, down which Johnson on leaving St. Giles was taken to the 
Cowgate. Together with so much that was ancient they have 
long since disappeared. He was now at the foot of the highest 
building in the town. As he turned round and looked upwards he 
saw a house that rose above him thirteen storeys high, being built 
like James's Court on a steep slope. It has suffered the same fate 
as Boswell's house, having been destroyed by fire more than sixty 
years ago. s From the Cowgate Robertson led the way up the 
steep hill to the College of which he was the Principal. They passed 
through " that narrow dismal alley," the College Wynd, famous to 
all time as the birthplace of Sir Walter Scott. Johnson would 

1 Tour in ScotlanJ, i. 233. count of Scotland, iii. 43, and Pennant's Tour 

2 Humphry Clinker, iii. 5. in Scotland, ii. 249. 

3 The Tale of a Tub, section xi. 3 Chambers, quoted in Croker's Bos^uell, 
* Defoe's Tour through Great Britain : Ac- p. 276. 


have been pleased indeed could he have known how that bright 
young genius would one day delight in his poems, and how the 
last line of manuscript that he was to send to the press would be a 
quotation from the Vanity of Human Wishes^ " Ha; miserix 
nostra;," were the melancholy words which Robertson uttered as 
he showed his companion the mean buildings in which his illustrious 
University was lodged. Johnson, in the narrative of his tour, no 
doubt remembering what he saw both here and at St. Andrew's, 
grieved over a nation which, " while its merchants or its nobles are 
raising palaces suffers its universities to moulder into dust." 
Robertson, in an eloquent Memorial, had lately pleaded the cause 
of learning. The courts and buildings of the College were so 
mean, he said, that a stranger would mistake them for almshouses. 
Instead of a spacious quadrangle there were three paltry divisions, 
encompassed partly with a range of low and even of ruinous 
houses, and partly with walls which threatened destruction to the 
passers-by. Boswell tells of one portion of the wall which, bulging 
out, was supposed, like " Bacon's mansion," to "tremble o'er the 
head" ot every scholar, being destined to fall when a man of extra- 
ordinary learning should go under it. It had lately been taken 
down. " They were afraid it never would fall," said Johnson, glad 
of an opportunity to have a pleasant hit at Scottish learning. 
In spite of its poverty and the meanness of its buildings, such was 
the general reputation of the University, above all of the School of 
Medicine, that students flocked to it from all parts of Great Britain 
and Ireland, from the English settlements in North America and 
the West Indies, and even from distant countries in Europe. 
Their number at this time was not less than six or seven hundred ; 
by 1 789 it had risen to one thousand and ninety. The Principal 
did not allow himself to be soothed into negligence by this success. 
He grieved that " with a literary education should be connected 
in youth ideas of poverty, meanness, dirtiness, and darkness." The 
sum of money which he asked for was not large in a country whose 
wealth was so rapidly increasing. For ,6,500 not quite double 
the amount which he had been lately paid for his History of 
Charles V. sixteen " teaching rooms " could be provided, while 
,8,500 more would supply everything else that was needed. Yet 
it was not till 1789 that the foundation stone was laid of the New 

' Lockhart's Scott, iii. 269. The quotation no stage ; " the line with which Scott concluded the 
doubt was, "Superfluous lags the veteran on the brief Appendix to Castle Dangerous. 


College of Edinburgh. Happily Robertson was spared to play his 
part on that great clay. Preceded by the Mace, with the Professor 
of Divinity on his right hand, and the Professor of Church History 
on his left, followed by the rest of his colleagues according to 
seniority, and by the students, each man wearing a sprig of green 
laurel in his hat, he headed the procession of the University. 1 

However mean were the buildings in general, with the library 
Johnson was much pleased. Fifty years earlier a traveller had 
noticed that " the books in it were cloistered with doors of wire 
which none could open but the keeper, more commodious than the 
multitude of chains used in the English libraries." * I was surprised 

to find that so late as 
1723 the use of chains 
was generally con- 
tinued in England. 
Yet about that time 
one of the Scotch ex- 
hibitioners at Balliol 
College reported that 
the knives and forks 
were chained to the 
tables in the Hall, 3 so 
that it was likely that 
at least as great care 
was taken with books 

of value. Johnson's attention does not seem to have been drawn to 
an inscription over one of the doors, which the French traveller, 
Saint-Fond, read with surprise Musis KT CHRLSTO. Had he 
noticed it, it would scarcely have failed to draw forth some remark. 
From the College the party went on to the Royal Infirmary. 
In the Bodleian Library I have found a copy of the History and 
Statutes of that institution printed in 1749. In it is given a table 
of the three kinds of diet which the patients were to have " low, 
middle, and full." The only vegetable food allowed was oatmeal 
and barley-meal, rice and panado. 4 There was no tea, coffee, or 
cocoa. The only drink was ale, but in " low diet " it was not to be 
taken. It is to be hoped that the Infirmary was not under the 

1 Scots Magazine, 1768, p. 113; 1789, pp. 521-5. ' Seep. 52 of this pamphlet. Panada is de- 

2 J. Mackay's/<>-0/ through Scotland, p. 69. fined by Julmson as a food math by boiling bread 

3 Scotland ami Scotsmen in the Eighteenth in water. 
Century, ii. 307. 




same severe ecclesiastical discipline as the workhouse. There the 
first failure to attend Divine worship was to be followed by the 
loss of the next meal, while for the second failure the culprit was 
" to be denied victuals for a whole day." ' 

The last sight which Johnson was shown in his" running about 
Edinburgh" was the Abbey of Holyrood House, "that deserted 
mansion of royalty," as Boswell calls it with a sigh. It was more 
the absence of a charwoman than of a king that was likely to rouse 
the regrets of an Englishman. " The stately rooms," wrote 
Wesley, "are dirty as stables." 1 Even the chapel was in a state 
of "miserable neglect." 3 It was in Holyrood that Robertson 
"fluently harangued" on the scenes of Scottish history. In the 
room in which David Ri/zio was murdered " Johnson was over- 
heard repeating in a kind of muttering tone, a line of the old ballad, 
Johnny A rmstrongs Last Good Night : 

' And ran him through the fair body.' " 

The mood in which he was when he made so odd a quotation was 
perhaps no less natural than Burns's when he wrote : 

" With awe-struck thought and pitying tears, 

I view that noble, stately dome, 
Where Scotia's kings of other years 

Famed heroes, had their royal home." 4 

The Castle, that "rough, rude fortress," was not visited by 
Johnson till his return in November. He owned that it was " a 
great place ; " yet a few days after " he affected to despise it, when 
Lord Elibank was talking of it with the natural elation of a Scotch- 
man. "It would," he said, "make a good prison in England." 
Perhaps there was not so much affectation as Boswell thought, for 
Johnson believed, he said, that the ruins of some one of the castles 
which the English built in Wales would supply materials for all 
those which he saw beyond the Tweed. 5 


On the morning of Wednesday, August i8th, the travellers, 
accompanied by Mr. Nairne, an advocate, set out on their northern 

' Regulations for the Workhouse of Edinburgh, 3 Boswell'syo/iHJOH, v. 362. 

'75, p. 30. ' An Address to Edinburgh. 

* Wesley '* Journal, iv. 181. 5 Johnson's Works, ix. 152. 


tour. They were attended by Boswell's servant, Joseph Ritter, a 
Bohemian, "a fine stately fellow above six feet high, who had been 
over a great part of Europe, and spoke many languages. He was," 
adds Boswcll, "the best servant I ever saw. Dr. Johnson gave 
him this character, ' Sir, he is a civil man, and a wise man.' ' At 
Leith they took boat for Kinghorn on the other side of the Firth 
of Forth. In the passage Johnson observed the Island of Inch 
Keith, which, to his surprise, his companions had never visited, 
" though lying within their view, it had all their lives solicited their 
notice." He flattered his pride as " a true-born Englishman " by 
reflecting, had it been as near London as it was to Edinburgh, 
" with what emulation of price a few rocky acres would have been 
purchased." " I'd have this island," he said. " I'd build a house, 
make a good landing-place, have a garden and vines, and all sorts 
of trees. A rich man of a hospitable turn here would have many 
visitors from Edinburgh." By his wish they landed, putting in at 
a little bay on the north-west, the same " wild, stony little bay," 
no doubt, into which Thomas Carlyle and Edward Irving ran their 
boat one summer evening more than forty years later. " We found 
the island," writes Johnson, " a rock somewhat troublesome to 
climb, about a mile long and half a mile broad ; in the middle were 
the ruins of an old fort, which had on one of the stones, ' Maria Re. 
1564.' It had been only a blockhouse one storey high. The rock 
had some grass and many thistles, both cows and sheep were 
grazing. There was a spring of water. We pleased ourselves 
with being in a country all our own." The ruins have long since 
disappeared ; with the stones a light-house was built. How our 
travellers were affected by the beautiful scenery that was all around, 
if indeed they were affected, we are not told. For natural beauties 
Boswell hoped to be able some day "to force a taste." In the 
description of visible objects he honestly owned he found a great 
difficulty. Johnson's descriptions of scenery are almost all of the 
artificial school. Both men were far too wise to affect raptures 
which they did not feel. Happily the view that the chance wanderer 
sometimes sees in that lonely island has been sketched for us by 
the hands of a master. Carlyle thus describes what he saw : " The 
scene in our little bay, as we were about proceeding to launch our 
boat, seemed to me the beautifullest I had ever beheld. Sun about 
setting just in face of us, behind Ben Lomond far away. Edinburgh 
with its towers ; the great silver mirror of the Frith girt by such a 


framework of mountains; cities, rocks, and fields and wavy land- 
scapes on all hands of us ; and reaching right under foot, as I 
remember, came a broad pillar as of gold from the just sinking sun ; 
burning axle, as it were, going down to the centre of the world." ' 

The weather was fine, so that our travellers had a pleasant 
crossing over " that great gulf" which Hume " regarded with 
horror and a kind of hydrophobia that kept him," he said, from 
visiting Adam Smith at Kirkaldy.* In Humphry Clinker Matthew 
Bramble had had so rough a passage, that when he was told that 
he had been saved " by the particular care of Providence," he 
replied, " Yes, but I am much of the honest Highlander's mind, 
after he had made such a passage as this. His friend told him he 
was much indebted to Providence. ' Certainly,' said Donald, ' but 
by my saul, mon, I'se ne'er trouble Providence again so long as 
the Brig of Stirling stands." ; 


At Kinghorn, "a mean town," which was said to consist chiefly 
of " horse-hirers and boatmen noted all Scotland over for their 
impudence and impositions," ' our travellers took a post-chaise for 
St. Andrews. A few years earlier Johnson would not have found 
there his favourite mode of conveyance. By the year 1758 post- 
chaises had only penetrated as far north as Durham. 5 He found 
the roads good, " neither rough nor dirty." The absence of 
toll-gates, " afforded a southern stranger a new kind of pleasure." 
He would not have rejoiced over this absence had he known that 
their want was supplied by the forced labour of the cottars. On 
these poor men was laid " an annual tax of six days' labour for 
repairing the roads." (i Used as he was to the rapid succession of 
carriages and riders, and to the beautiful and varied scenery in the 
neighbourhood of London, he complained that in Scotland there 
was " little diversion for the traveller, who seldom sees himself 
either encountered or overtaken, and who has nothing to contem- 
plate but grounds that have no visible boundaries, or are separated 
by walls of loose stone." There were few of the heavy waggons 

1 Reminiscences, i. 113. 4 Ray's History of the Rebellion of 1745-6, 

2 Hume's Letters to Sira/tan, p. 115. p. 284. 

3 Humphry Clinker, \\, 249. 5 Dr. A. Carlyle's Autobiography, p. 331. 

6 Lord Kames's Sketches, iii. 483. 


which were seen on the roads in Kngland. A small cart drawn by 
one little horse was the carriage in common use. "A man seemed 
to derive some degree of dignity and importance from the reputa- 
tion of possessing a two-horse cart." Three miles beyond King- 
horn they drove through Kirkaldy, " a very long town, meanly 
built," where Adam Smith perhaps at that very time was taking 
his one amusement, "a long, solitary walk by the sea-side," smiling 
and talking to himself and meditating his M'callh of Nations* 
Here, too, Thomas Carlyle was to have " will and way-gate " upon 
all his friend Irving' s books, and here " with greedy velocity " he 
was to read the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, at the rate 
of a volume a day. Along the beach he was to walk " in summer 
twilights, a mile of the smoothest sand, with one long wave coming 
on gently, steadily, and breaking in gradual explosion into harm- 
less, melodious white at your hand all the way." 2 Of all the 
scenery which Johnson saw, either here or on the rest of his drive, 
his description is of the briefest. " The whole country," he wrote, 
" is extended in uniform nakedness, except that in the road between 
Kirkaldy and Cupar I passed for a few yards between two hedges." 
Night, however, had come on before their journey was ended, for 
they had lost time at Inch Keith. They could not, moreover, 
have been driven at a fast pace, for between Kinghorn and St. 
Andrews, a distance of nearly thirty miles, there was no change of 
horses to be had. 3 They crossed, perhaps without knowing it, 
Magus Moor, where Archbishop Sharpe, " driving home from a 
council day," was killed " by a party of furious men." * In going 
over this same moor many years later, Sir Walter Scott, being 
moved, as he says, by the spirit to give a picture of the assassina- 
tion, so told his tale that he " frightened away the night's sleep 
of one of his fellow-travellers." 5 


Coming as they did through the darkness to St. Andrews, they 
saw nothing of that " august appearance " which the seat of the 
most ancient of the Scotch universities presented from afar. "It 

1 Humes Letters to Strahan, p. 353, and 4 Biirnel's History of His Own Time, ed. 
Boswell'sy<;/;HWH, iv. 24, . 2. iSiS, ii. 82. Balfour of Burley, the leader, is 

2 Reminiscences, i. 102-4. known to the readers of Old Mortality. 

3 Saint-Pond's Voyage, d-Y., ii. 253. 5 Lockhart's Scott, i 72. 



appears," said an early traveller, " much like Bruges in Flanders 
at a distance ; its colleges and fine steeples making a goodly 
appearance." ' They arrived late, after a dreary drive, but " found 
a good supper at Glass's Inn, and Dr. Johnson revived agreeably." 
Who was Glass and which was his inn I could not ascertain. The 
old Scotch custom of calling a house not after its sign but its 
landlord, renders identification difficult. Wherever it was they 
found it full ; but " by the interposition of some invisible friend," 
to use Johnson's words, "lodgings were provided at the house of 
one of the professors." The invisible friend was a relation of 
that " most universal 
Dr. Arbuth- 


not, whom Johnson 

once ranked first 

among the writers in 

Queen Anne's reign. 

Their host was Dr. 

Robert Watson, the 

author of the History 

of Philip II. and 

Philip III. of Spain, 

" an interesting, clear, 

well - arranged, and 

rather feeble-minded 

work," as Carlyle de- 

scribed it. 2 His house 

had formerly been 

part of St. Leonard's 

College, but had been purchased by him at the time when that 

ancient institution, by being merged in St. Salvator's, lost its separate 

existence. A traveller who had visited St. Andrews about the 

year 1723 saw the old cells of the monks, two storeys high, on 

the southern side of the college. " On the west was a goodly pile 

of buildings, but all out of repair." Wesley, who came to the town 

three years after Johnson, does not seem to have known how large 

a part of the old buildings had been converted into a private house, 

for he wrote that " what was left of St. Leonard's College was 


through Scotland, p. 83. 
" Early Letters of Thomas Carlyle, ed. 1886, !. 187. 
t^y through Scot/anil, p. 87. 



only a heap of ruins." ' Of the inside of the ancient chapel Johnson 
could not get a sight : 

" I was always, by some civil excuse, hindered from entering it. A decent 
attempt, as I was since told, has been made to convert it into a kind of green-house, by 
planting its area with shrubs. This new method of gardening is unsuccessful; the 
plants do not hitherto prosper. To what use it will next be put, I have no pleasure 
in conjecturing. It is something, that its present state is at least not ostentatiously 
displayed. Where there is yet shame, there may in time be virtue." 

The virtue was somewhat slow in coming. Saint-Fond, who 
got a peep into the chapel, inferred that it was used for a winter 
store-house for the carrots and turnips which grew in the kitchen- 
garden that surrounded it. It has of late years been cleared of 
rubbish and restored to decency, which, perhaps, is all the restora- 
tion that is desirable. Some shrubs and overhanging trees have 
been allowed to throw a graceful veil over man's neglect. One 
strange sight the old monkish cells had witnessed earlier in the 
century. A man of liberal views had been elected Rector of the 
University. In his honour " the students made a bonfire at St. 
Leonard's Gate, into which they threw some of the Calvinistic 
systems which they were enjoined to read." 1 Not very many 
years before this innocent and even meritorious sacrifice was made, 
the terrible flames of religious persecution had blazed up in this city 
dedicated to piety and learning. It is possible that Johnson passed 
in the streets some aged man who in his childhood had seen a 
miserable woman burnt to death for withcraft on the Witch Hill. 
So late as the seventh year of the present century a gentleman 
was living who had known a person who had witnessed this 
dreadful sight. 3 

In Dr. Watson's house the two travellers "found very comfort- 
able and genteel accommodation." The host "wondered at John- 
son's total inattention to established manners ; " but he does not 
seem to have let his wonder be discovered by his guest. " I take 
great delight in him," said Johnson. How much delight Watson 
took in him we are not told. " He allowed him a very strong 
understanding;" and as well he might, for he heard some "good 
talk." It was at his breakfast-table that Johnson proudly pointed 
out how authors had at length shaken themselves free of patrons. 
" Learning," he said, " is a trade. We have done with patronage. 

1 Wesley's Journal, iv. 77. Innes's literary fraud described in Boswell's 

* Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Johnson, i. 360, and the father of " Lexiphanes." 

Century, i. 268. The popular rector was Archi- 16. ii. 44. 

bald Campbell, the victim of the Rev. Dr. 3 St. AndreiJs As it was and as ft is, p. 161. 


If learning cannot support a man, if he must sit with his hands 
across till somebody feeds him, it is as to him a bad thing." It 
was here, moreover, that he gave that amusing account of the change 
of manners in his lifetime. " I remember (said he) when all the 
decent people in Lichfield got drunk every night, and were not the 
worse thought of." That smoking had gone out seemed to him 
strange, for it was "a thing which requires so little exertion, and 
yet preserves the mind from total vacuity." 

The exact spot where he was so comfortably lodged is doubtful. 
In the Hebrides some of the chambers in which he slept are still 
known. In a University, where the traditions of a scholar should 
surely linger long, the very house has been forgotten. It is 
believed, however, that Dr. Watson occupied that part of the 
ancient building which had once been Buchanan's residence. Some 
portion of that great scholar's study still remains, having outlived 
both time and change. Yet that Johnson should not have been 
informed of a fact which to him would have been so interesting, or 
that being informed he should not have mentioned it, is indeed 
surprising. His admiration for Buchanan's genius seems almost 
unbounded. If the city attracted him because it had once been 
archiepiscopal, so did the University, because in it Buchanan had 
once taught philosophy. " His name," he adds, " has as fair a claim 
to immortality as can be conferred by modern latinity, and perhaps 
a fairer than the instability of vernacular languages admits." Sir 
Walter Scott loved him almost as much as Johnson. " He was his 
favourite Latin poet as well as historian." ! 

Our travellers rose " much refreshed " from their fatigue, and to 
the enjoyment of a very fine day. They went forth to view the 
ruins not only of a cathedral, but almost of a city and a University. 
That it had once flourished as a city was shown by history : its 
ancient magnificence as the seat of a great archbishopric was wit- 
nessed by " the mournful memorials " which had escaped the hands 
of the devastator. Of its three Colleges only two were standing. 
It was "the skeleton of a venerable city," said Smollett. 2 Many 
years earlier a traveller, applying to it Lord Rochester's words, had 
described it as being " in its full perfection of decay." Pennant, 
who visited it only the year before Johnson, on entering the West 
Port, saw a well-built street, straight, and of a vast length and 
breadth, lying before him ; but it was so grass-grown, and so dreary 

1 Lockhart's Life of Scott, i. 175. '' Humphry Clinker, ii. 246. 


a solitude, that it seemed as if it had been laid waste by pestilence. 1 
Another traveller, who came a little later, praised " the noble wide 
street," but lamented that most of the houses were " disfigured by 
what is termed a fore-stair that is, an open staircase on the out- 
side, carried in a zigzag manner across the front of the house." 
Before most of them was heaped up a huge dunghill. 2 A young 
English student fresh from Eton, the grandson of Bishop Berkeley, 
who entered the University about the year 17/8, on seeing "this 
dreary deserted city, wept to think that he was to remain there 
three long years." So fond nevertheless did he become of the 
place that "he shed more tears at leaving than at entering." : 
Saint-Eoncl saw grass growing in all the streets : " Tout y est triste, 
silencieux ; le peuple, y vivant dans 1'ignorance des arts et du com- 
merce, offre rimage de 1'insouciance et cle la langueur." 4 I was told 
by an old inhabitant that not a single new house was built till after 
the year 1851, and that not long before that time sheep might be 
seen feeding in the grass-grown streets. Our travellers were 
touched by the general gloom. "It was," said Bos well, " some- 
what dispiriting to see this ancient archiepiscopal city now sadly 
deserted." " One of its streets," wrote Johnson, " is now lost ; and 
in those that remain there is the silence and solitude of inactive in- 
digence and gloomy depopulation." This loss of a street seems to 
have been imaginary. He was speaking, no doubt, of the road 
known under the name of The Scores, which runs in front of the 
Castle, and follows the line of the coast. But along its course 
neither pavements nor foundations have ever been discovered. 5 
Nevertheless the desolation was very great. Over one ruin, how- 
ever, a good man might have justly exulted. In the archbishops' 
castle on the edge of the sea is shown the dreadful pit in which the 
unhappy prisoner, far below the level of the ground, spent his 
weary days in wretchedness and darkness, listening to the beating 
of the waves. Here ofttimes he waited for the hour to come when 
he should be raised by a rope to the surface, as if he were a bucket 
of water, and not a man, and dragged off to die before the people. 
Sometimes those poor eyes, grown weak by a darkness which was 
never broken, of a sudden had to face, not only the light of day, but 

1 Ton i- in S, -at/am/, ii. 189. The population ' / \yagc en Angleterre, i>r., ii. 238. 

he estimated at about two thousand. //<. ' My informant is Dr. John Paterson, of 

P- 196- Clifton Bank, St. Andrews, to whose extensive 

1 Poems of G. M. Berkeley, Preface, p. Ixi. knowledge as a local antiquary and most friendly 

' J fl>. p. Ixii. assistance I am indebted. 


the blaze of the torch which was to kindle the martyr's pile. Think- 
ing on all this on Patrick Hamilton, on Henry Forrest, on George 
Wishart, and on Walter Milne, who for their faith suffered death 




by fire at St. Andrews who does not rejoice that this dismal den 
was shattered to pieces, and that where once " an atheous priest " 
made the good tremble by his frown, now on the pleasant sward 
innocent children play about, and strangers from afar idly dream an 
hour away ? 


None of these thoughts came into the minds of the two travellers 
They did not see this dreadful dungeon, for it was hidden beneath 
the rubbish of the ruined walls. The sight of it would, I hope, 
have moved Johnson to write otherwise than he did. Had he 
looked down into its gloomy depths, he would scarcely have said 
that " Cardinal Beaton was murdered by the ruffians of reforma- 
tion." Never surely was a more righteous sentence executed than 
that whereby this murderer of George Wishart, in the very room 
where, lolling on his velvet cushion, he had looked forth on the 
martyr's sufferings, was himself put to death. 

With far different feelings are we animated as we look at " the 
poor remains of the stately Cathedral." If we do not grieve for the 
rooks, nevertheless we mourn over the wild folly which struck 
down so glorious a rookery. Would that that fair sight still caught 
the sailor's eye which met John Knox's gaze when, " hanging tired 
over his oar in the French galley, he saw the white steeples of St. 
Andrews rising out of the sea in the mist of the summer morning I" 1 
Desolate as is the scene of ruin now, it was far more desolate when 
Johnson saw it. The ground lay deep in rubbish. The few broken 
pillars which were left standing were almost hidden in the ruins 
heaped up around them. The Cathedral until very lately had been 
made a common quarry, " and every man had carried away the 
stones who fancied that he wanted them." Now all is trim. The 
levelled ground, the smooth lawn, the gravelled paths, the gently 
sloping banks, the trees and the shrubs, all bear witness to man's 
care for the venerable past, and to his reverence for the dead who 
still find their last resting-place by the side of their forefathers. 
The wantonness of the destruction, however, mocks at repair. 
The work was too thoroughly done by those fierce reformers, and 
by the quiet quarry men of after ages. In all the cities of Scotland 
there were craftsmen, but it was in Glasgow alone that they 
rose to save their beloved Cathedral. Yet everywhere the people 
should have felt to use Johnson's homely words as, "wrapt up 
in contemplation," he surveyed these scenes that " differing from 
a man in doctrine is no reason why you should pull his house about 
his ears." We may exclaim, as Wesley exclaimed at Aberbrothick, 
when he was told that the zealous reformers burnt the Abbey 
clown, " God deliver us from reforming mobs !" 2 


In the ruined cloisters as our travellers paced up and down, 

1 Froude's History of England, ed. 1870, vi. 233. Wesley '& Journal, Hi. 397. 


while the old walls gave " a solemn echo " to their steps and to 
Johnson's strong voice, he talked about retirement from the world. 
For such a discourse there could not easily have been found a more 
fitting scene. 

" I never read of an hermit (he said) but in imagination I kiss his feet : never 
of a monastery, but I could fall on my knees and kiss the pavement. But I think 
putting young people there, who know nothing of life, nothing of retirement, is 
dangerous and wicked. It is a saying as old as Hesiod 

"Kpya v'ttav, fiovXai <5e fittrwi', filial de ytpuvTW,' ' 

That is a very noble line : not that young men should not pray, or old men not 
give counsel, but that every season of life has its proper duties. I have thought of 
retiring, and have talked of it to a friend ; but I find my vocation is rather to active 

Here, too, it was a different scene upon which he looked from 
that which meets our view. The gravestones which are now set 
against the walls of the cloisters were then buried beneath the 
rubbish of the cathedral. On the other side of this wall, in the 
grounds of the priory, were situated those " two vaults or cellars " 
where our travellers found a strange inmate. 

" In one of them (writes Johnson) lives an old woman, who claims an hereditary 
residence in it, boasting that her husband was the sixth tenant of this gloomy 
mansion in a lineal descent, and claims by her marriage with this lord of the cavern an 
alliance with the Bruces. Mr. Boswell staid a while to interrogate her, because he 
understood her language; she told him that she and her cat lived together; that 
she had two sons somewhere, who might perhaps be dead ; that when there were 
quality in the town notice was taken of her, and that now she was neglected, but 
did not trouble them. Her habitation contained all that she had ; her turf for fire 
was laid in one place and her balls of coal dust in another, but her bed seemed to 
be clean. Boswell asked her if she never heard any noises, but she could tell him 
of nothing supernatural, though she often wandered in the night among the graves 
and ruins ; only she had sometimes notice by dreams of the death of her relations." 

I made as diligent an inquiry as I could after this kinswoman 
of the royal family of Scotland, but all in vain. 

" The glories of our blood and state 
Are shadows, not substantial things." 

The memory has been preserved of "some cellar-looking places," 
but no tradition of human habitation has come down to our time. 

" Dr. Johnson wanted to mount the steeples (writes Boswell), but it could not 
be done. One of them, which he was told was in danger, he wished not to be 
taken down ; ' for (said he) it may fall on some of the posterity of John Knox ; 
and no great matter.' " 

1 Translated by Boswell : 

" Let youth in deeds, in counsel man engage ; 
Prayer is the proper duty of old age. ' 


Among the posterity was to be born eight-and-twenty years 
later a little girl, destined to become famous as the wife of Thomas 
Carlyle. 1 What was the hindrance to the ascent ot St. Rule's 
Tower I could not ascertain. The staircase, which is perfect, has 

in no part a modern 
appearance, but never- 
theless, it is possible 
that some of the steps 
were missing. Saint- 
Fond, nevertheless, 
went up it not long 
after Johnson's visit. 
Sir Walter Scott, a few 
years before his death, 
visiting the ruins, wrote 
that he had not been 
strong enough to climb 
the tower. 

"When before did I re- 
main sitting below when 
there was a steeple to be 
ascended ? I sat down on a 
grave-stone, and recollected 
the first visit I made to St. 
Andrews, now thirty-four 
years ago. What changes in 
my feelings and my fortunes 
have since then taken place ! 
some for the better, many 
for the worse. I remembered 
the name I then carved in 
runic characters on the turf 
beside the Castle Gate, and 
I asked why it should still 
agitate my heart." 2 

As we wander among these ancient ruins it is pleasant to think 
not only on the days when the cathedral stood in all its magnifi- 
cence, and on those other days when the wild mob raved through 
it, but also on old Samuel Johnson, wrapped up in contemplation 
or preaching about retirement, and on Walter Scott resting on a 

1 Her descent from Knox is not fully esta- good likelihood of the genealogy." Reminis- 
blished, though, says Carlyle, "there is really cences by Thomas Carlyle, ii. 103. 

2 Lockhart's Life of Scott, ix. 126. 



gravestone and dreaming of his first love. We may pause, too, 
for one moment in the old chapel beneath the tower, at the spot 
where that good man and good antiquary Robert Chambers lies in 
everlasting rest. From the top of the tower I looked with pleasure 
on the long row of young trees planted along the main street. The 
reproach of bareness will not long hang over the town. Indeed, 
much had been done to remove it by an earlier generation, for this 
noble street was adorned not many years ago by a fine group of 
trees. Unfortunately a reforming provost arose, who swept them 
away. Near the cathedral I noticed an inscription which might 
have called forth Johnson's sarcastic wit had he chanced to see it. 
It bore the date of 1712, and was in memory of "John Anderson 
who was Minister of the Gospel of St. Andrews." 

While the travellers were strolling about " dinner was men- 
tioned. ' Ay, ay,' said Johnson. ' Amidst all these sorrowful 
scenes I have no objection to dinner.' " They were to be the 
guests of the professors, who entertained them at one of the inns. 

" An ill-natured story was circulated (says Boswell) that, after grace was said in 
English, Johnson, with the greatest marks of contempt, as if he had held it to be no 
grace in an university, would not sit down till he had said grace aloud, in Latin. 
This would have been an insult indeed to the gentlemen who were entertaining us. 
But the truth was precisely thus. In the course of conversation at dinner, Dr. 
Johnson, in very good humour, said, ' I should have expected to have heard a 
Latin grace, among so many learned men : we had always a Latin grace at Oxford. 
I believe I can repeat it." 

This grace had been written by the learned Camclen for Pembroke 
College, " to which," to use Johnson's own words, " the zeal or 
gratitude of those that love it most can wish little better than that 
it may long proceed as it began." 

In the afternoon they went to see the monument to Archbishop 
Sharpe. His great granddaughter they met at supper. Saint- 
Fond, confounding him with Cardinal Beaton, says: "II parait 
que les parens du Cardinal Beaton n'ont pas voulu deguiser la 
paternite du saint archeveque, puisque sa fille est representee toute 
en pleurs, les bras tendus vers son pere." ' 

The two colleges which formed the University greatly in- 
terested Johnson. The natural advantages of St. Andrews for a 
seat of learning had been pointed out by an earlier traveller, who 
maintained that it had the best situation he had ever seen for an 
University, " being out of all common roads, and having fine downs 

1 Voyage en Angletcrre, c.-'f. , ii. 232. 


or links, as they call them, for exercising the scholars." l The 
golfers who now throng the links and boast that when professors 
by their learning could not save the ancient city from sinking into 
decay, they by their idleness have lilted it into prosperity, must 
have been numerous even in Johnson's time. Of all the old 
manufactures, that of golf-balls alone was left, and it maintained, 
or rather helped to destroy, several people. " The trade," says 
Pennant, " is commonly fatal to the artists, for the balls are made 
by stuffing a great quantity of feathers into a leathern case, by help 
of an iron rod with a wooden handle pressed against the breast, 



which seldom fails to bring on a consumption.'"' To Johnson, 
though he makes no mention of the Links, " St. Andrews seemed 
to be a place eminently adapted to study and education." Never- 


theless, he had to grieve over a declining university. The fault 
was not, he said, in the professors ; the expenses of the students, 
moreover, were very moderate. For about fifteen pounds, board, 
lodging, and instruction were provided for the session of seven 
months for students of the highest class. Those of lower rank 
were charged less than ten. Percival Stockdale, who was there in 
i 756, says that " for a good bedroom, coals, and the attendance of 
a servant, he paid one shilling a week." At this period an Oxford 
commoner, Johnson says, required a hundred a year and a petty 
scholarship " to live with great ease." 4 To anyone who could pay 
for what he bought in ready money, living was made cheaper by 
the system of giving a discount of a shilling in the pound. A 
Scotch gentleman who resided much in England finding that this 

1 Macky's Journey through Scotland, p. 93. 
'' Pennant's Tour in Scotland, ii. 197. 

J Stockpile's Memoirs, i. 238. 
' Boswell's Johnson, vi. xxx. 


was not done in that country, "was in the habit when he purchased 
anything of putting the cash in a piece of paper, on which he wrote 
what it was to pay. This lie kept in his desk twelve months, 
saying that the English traders are a set of rascals." ] The poorer 
Scotch students, however, had to bear great privations. " The 
miserable holes which some of them inhabit," writes a young 
English traveller, " their abstemiousness and parsimony, their con- 
stant attendance to study, their indefatigable industry, border on 
romance." At St. Andrews they often were too poor to buy 
candles, and had to study by fire-light. :i In spite of the extra- 
ordinary cheapness of the life their numbers were dwindling. 
They did not at this time exceed a hundred, says Johnson. Three 
years later Wesley was told that there were only about .seventy." 1 
" To the sight of archicpiscopal ruins," Johnson was reconciled, lie 
said, by the remoteness of the calamity which had befallen them. 
" Had the University been destroyed two centuries ago we should 
not have regretted it ; but to see it pining in decay and struggling 
for life fills the mind with mournful images and ineffectual wishes." 
Some improvement, nevertheless, had of late been made. Defoe, 
in the year 1727, had described the whole building of St. Salvator's 
College " as looking into its grave." ; The account given by 
Boswell of the fabric is much more cheerful. " The rooms for 
students," he writes, " seemed very commodious, and Dr. Johnson 
said the chapel was the neatest place of worship he had seen." 
Nevertheless, at the beginning of this century some of the lecture- 
rooms were described as being places " in which a gentleman 
would be ashamed to lodge his hacks or his terriers." It was 
fortunate for the reputation of the College that our two tra- 
vellers had not visited it earlier in the summer, otherwise they 
would have had to report a disgraceful sight which three years 
later shocked John Wesley. It was soon after the beginning of 
the Long Vacation that he was there, before the glaziers had 
repaired the wreck which marked the end of the yearly course. 
It was the custom, he was told, for the students to break all the 
windows before they left. " Where," asks Wesley, indignantly, 

1 G. M. Berkeley's Poems, p. cccxcvi. guese. " Hoswell gives it the same name, though 

2 Topham's Letters from EJinlmrg/i, p. 208. he spells it differently St. Salvador's. By 

3 G. M. Berkeley's Poems, p. cccxlix. 1807 I find it called in Grid-son's Delineations 

4 Wesley '* Journal, iv. 77. of St. Andrews, as it is at present, St. Sal- 
' Tour through Great Britain : Account of valor's. 

Scotland, iii. 154. Defoe calls it St. Salvadore's, u St. AnJrnus as it was and as it is, p. 157. 

and wonders "how it was made to speak Portu- 


arc their blessed Governors in the mean time ? Are they all fast 
asleep ? " ' The young Etonian, Bishop Berkeley's grandson, had 
the merit of putting an end to this bad practice. On entrance he 
was required to deposit a crown for window-money ; when, model 
of virtue as he was, he objected that he had never yet broken a 
window in his life, and was not likely to begin, he was assured that 
he would before he left St. Andrews. The College porter, who 
collected " these window-croons," told him of a poor student who 
had shed tears on being called on to pay. His father, a cottar, 
had sold one of his three cows to find money for his education at 
the university, and had sent him up with a large tub of oatmeal, a 
pot of salted butter, and five shillings in his pocket. Sixpence of 
this money had already been spent, and the rest the porter took.'' 
When the window-breaking time came on, and Berkeley was sum- 
moned to take his part in the riot, he refused. As a boy at Eton, 
he said, though sometimes with more wine in his head than was 
good for him, he had never performed such a valiant feat, and he 
was not therefore going to begin as a young man. His comrades 
yielded to his remonstrances, and the windows were no longer 
broken. 3 

At St. Mary's College Johnson was shown the fine library 
which had been finished within the last few years. Dr. Murison, 
the Principal, was abundantly vain of it, for he seriously said to 
him, " You have not such a one in England." Johnson, though he 
has his laugh at the Doctor for hoping " to irritate or subdue his 
English vanity," yet admits that if " it was not very spacious, it was 
elegant and luminous." It is not, of course, to be compared with the 
largest libraries at Oxford. " If a man has a mind to prance " it is 
not at St. Andrews, but at Christ Church and All Souls, that 
he must study. 4 Nevertheless it confers great dignity on the 
University, and with its 120,000 volumes there is no English 
College that it would disgrace. Murison's vanity had therefore 
some excuse. He was, however, a man " barely sufficient " for the 
post which he held. Over his slips in Latin the lads sometimes 
made merry. In the Divinity Hall he one day rebuked a student 

1 Wesley '* Journal, iv. 77. were more commodious and pleasant for study 

1 Berkeley and his friend, the young Laird of [than the library of Trinity College], as being 

Kincaldrum, raised "a very noble subscription" more spacious and airy, he replied, 'Sir, if a 

for the poor lad. man has a mind to prance, he must study at 

3 G. M. Berkeley's Poems, p. cccxlviii. Christ Church and All Souls.' " Boswell's 

4 " On my observing to Dr. Johnson that Johnson, ii. 67, . 2. 
some of the modern libraries of the university 



for delivering ;i discourse which was too high-flown and poetical. 
" Lord help him, poor man! " said the indignant youngster, " He 
knows no better." 

On the second day of our travellers' stay " they went," says 
Boswell, "and saw Colonel Nairne's garden and grotto. Here was 
a fine old plane tree.' 2 Unluckily the Colonel said there was but 
this and another large tree in the country/ This assertion was an 


excellent cue for Dr. Johnson, who laughed enormously, calling to 
me to hear it." The Colonel's father, Lord Nairne, had been " out 
in the "45," while the son, who fought in the King's army, had been 
sent to batter down the old castle of his forefathers. George II. 
wished to reward his fidelity with the command of a regiment, but 

1 Scotland an// Scotchmen in the Eighteenth 
Century, \. 26g, 547. The youngster was Jerome 
Stone, the author of a poem called Albin ami 
the Daughter of Mcy, mentioned l>y Boswell in 
his Life of Johnson, v. 171. 

2 It was probably a sycamore, for, as was 
pointed out by a writer in the Gentleman's Maga- 

zine for 1837, p. 343, what the Scotch call syca- 
mores we call planes. 

3 The other tree, according to Sir Walter 
Scott, was probably the Prior Letham plane, 
measuring about twenty feet round. It stood in 
a cold exposed situation apart from every other 
tree. Croker's Boswell, p. 286, 


was hindered by the Duke of Cumberland, "who told the King 
that it was impossible that a man who had suffered so much could 
ever forget or forgive it." 1 1 is garden and grotto were at the back 
of the Chape;!. The grotto has disappeared with its " petrified 
stocks of trees," unless perchance some remains of it are seen in a 
small building, which looks like a private chapel, and which might 
have been transformed by that ingenious collector of curiosities, the 
Colonel. The plane tree survived till about the beginning of the 
century. An old gentleman still living was told by his grandfather 
that in the branches a wooden platform had been built, on which 
tea-parties were held.' 2 I remember seeing in my boyhood a similar 
platform in a large willow-tree overhanging Isaac Walton's sedgy 
Lea. That the good people of St. Andrews have not in their 
traditions made Johnson drink a dozen or two cups of tea in this airy 
summer-house is a proof either of their truthfulness or of the slug- 
gishness of their imagination. 

Every Scotchman, it was said long ago, thought it his duty once 
in his life to visit " the city of the scarlet gown " and to see the ruins 
of the great cathedral/' No longer, happily, is the mind of the pil- 
grim " filled with mournful images and ineffectual wishes ; " no 
longer does he see "a University pining in decay and struggling 
for life ; " no longer does he wander through grass-grown streets, 
listening to the sound of his own solitary steps. The town is 
thriving and animated; the University sees the number of its 
students steadily increasing. It had long been depressed by 
poverty ; but a noble endowment happily has this very year ' fallen 
to its lot. If it can never hope to attain to those stately avenues and 
lawns and gardens and buildings, as beautiful as they are venerable, 
which are the boast of Oxford, nevertheless in the bracing pureness 
of its air, in its fine situation on the shores of the northern sea, in its 
seclusion from that bustle which distracts the student's life, and from 
that luxury which too often makes poverty, however honest, hang 
its head, it has advantages which are not enjoyed by any other of 
our Universities. 

1 G. M. lierkeley's Poems, p. coxii. is told of some people who were at St. Andrews 

2 This piece of information I owe to the for only one nighl, and who, rather than miss 
kindness of Mr. J. Mailland Anderson, the l.i- the ruins, saw them " by the light of an old horn 
braiian of the University. lantern." 

3 In G. M. Herkeley's PMIHS, p. Ivi, a story ' Written in 1889. 




Johnson, closing his description of St. Andrews with his lament 
over its declining University, goes on to say like a wise man : 


" As we knew sorrow and wishes to be vain, it was now our busi- 
ness to mind our way." Perhaps, as he wrote these words he had 
in his memory two lines of Matthew Green, though they were 



originally used of quitting, not what was painful, but what was 


"Though pleased to see the dolphins play, 
J mind my compass and my way." ' 

He and Boswell started about noon for Montrose on the other side 
of tlie Firth of Tay, a distance of a little over forty miles, but with 
good reason made a halt at Letichars, on observing the fine old 
Norman church." They were fortunate enough to see it before it 


was "restored" for nothing ancient remains but the apse and 
chancel. The new portion in the interior is ugly in the most 
approved Scottish fashion ; in the outside it would be insignificant 
were it not added as a vast excrescence to the ancient building. It 
stands on a little hill at the end of the village, with the churchyard 
round it falling away on the southern side in steep slopes to the 
road. Hard by are some well-grown trees round the Manse where 
Boswell waited on the aged minister, a very civil old man, to learn 
what he could. He was told that the church was supposed to have 
stood eight hundred years. St. Andrews certainly can show 
nothing so ancient. The village is built solidly enough of stone, 

1 Vosviull's SO/IHSOH, iii. 405. 

3 Paterbon's Itinerary, ii. 567, 581. 








but seems careless of pleasing the eye. There are no little gardens 
before the houses, no roses trained up the walls, scarcely any flowers 
in the windows. '' Take care of the beautiful, the useful will take 
care of itself" has not been a gospel sounded in Scottish ears. 

The road to the Tay, which Boswell enlivened by leading 
Johnson to discuss the doctrine of transubstantiation, lay through a 
pleasant undulating country that bears luxuriant crops and at the pre- 
sent time is no longer wanting in trees. Their chaise was taken across 
the Firth in a ferry-boat at a charge of four shillings. How Johnson, 
who always delighted in what he called " the accommodations of 
life," would have exulted in the great bridge which now spans the 
flood! He would have noticed too with pleasure the long avenue 
of young trees planted along the bank. Passing through Dundee, 
" a dirty despicable town " as he describes it, but now the seat of a 
vast commerce, they came about the close of the day to the ruined 
abbey of Aberbrothick. 1 The sight of these fragments of " stupen- 
dous magnificence " struck Johnson perhaps more than anything 
which he saw on the whole of his tour. " I should scarcely have 
regretted my journey," he said, " had it afforded nothing more than 
the sight of Aberbrothick." John Wesley declared that he " knew 
nothing like the Abbey in all North Britain. I paced it and found 
it an hundred yards long. The breadth is proportionable. Part of 
the west-end which is still standing shows it was full as high as 
Westminster Abbey." : It had been left in much the same state of 
neglect as the Cathedral of St. Andrews. Boswell, " whose in- 
quisitiveness was seconded by great activity," wanted to climb one 
of the towers. " He scrambled in at a high window, but found the 
stairs within broken, and could not reach the top." The entrance 
to the other tower they could not discern, and as the night was 
gathering upon them he gave up the attempt. Not clearly 
remembering Johnson's account, I told the old man who shows 
the Abbey that I had read in an old book that a hundred years and 
more ago the staircase was broken down. " Then they Iced" he 
answered angrily, indignant for its reputation for antiquity. I 
learnt from him that an ancient inn, which had been recently pulled 
down, had been found to have been built of the hewn stones taken 
from the Abbey. In the ruins no doubt for many a long year the 

1 Or Abtrbrothofk, as it is called in Soulhey's written Arbroath, in accordance with the pro- 
Ballad of the ftuhcape Bell. The name is now nunciation. 

* Wesley's Journal, iii. 397. 




town had had its quarry. Johnson noticed one room of which he 
could not conjecture the use, " as its elevation was very dispropor- 
tionate to its area." I was told that it was the Chapter Mouse, but 
my informant, a queer little urchin who acted as under-guide, was 

- "^^"'^-'^-"yf^- - '-;,- / ' ^'-^awf '}>". "-'?'- :--^ . ^^.i 
^^lt&^^^^^^i:^^^^^,'^ ~ 

-" ^&$&&&!&&P^ /' 

i r ^ ** r !f ^..^" ' . /t ^ .-itis-*- ' 

.':' - ' ' "^ 


not trustworthy, for he informed me'that the ruins had been caused 
by a fire in which the Abbey was burnt clown a thousand years ago. 
In this room I found hanging on the wall likenesses of Mary Queen 
of Scots and of Pope Pius IX. Surely the bitterness of the Refor- 
mation has passed away even in Scotland. 

The grounds are still used as a graveyard. Here and elsewhere 
in Scotland I noticed in the inscriptions that the English term wife 


is slowly supplanting the old Scotch term spoiisc. On one side of 
the great gateway two ugly arches have been lately built as en- 
trances to pompous family burial places. These excrescences 
should surely be removed and the dead left to their quiet insignifi- 
cance. On the outside, underneath a lofty wall, a pleasant bowling- 
green has been laid out for public enjoyment, with flower borders 
running round. The town was keeping a public holiday the day I 
was there, and the ground was thronged with players and spectators. 
I was sorry to see in many places that ivy in the true cockney spirit 
has been trained up the ruins. Unless the strong sea-breezes, 
which cut off the tops of the trees as soon as they show their heads 
too high, come to the rescue, it will in time hide the dark red sand- 
stone beneath a uniform mantle of green. Though the ruins are 
now cared for, and the ground cleared of the long grass and weeds 
which hindered Johnson from tracing the foundations, nevertheless 
the lofty wall close to the main entrance is disgraced by huge adver- 
tisements. As the stranger approaches the venerable pile from 
the High Street he gives one angry thought to the Town Council 
which leases it to the dealers in sewing machines, in blue, and in Irish 
whisky for advertising their wares. " Where there is yet shame there 
may in time be virtue." Would that this protest of mine may rouse 
a feeling of shame in the unworthy guardians of so glorious a 
ruin ! 


The road along which Johnson and Boswell drove as they 
journeyed from Dundee through Arbroath to Montrose, is described 
by Defoe as a " pleasant way through a country fruitful and be- 
spangled, as the sky in a clear night with stars of the biggest mag- 
nitude, with gentlemen's houses, thick as they can be supposed to 
stand with pleasure and conveniency." * Our travellers in the 
latter part of the drive saw nothing of all this, for the sun had set 
before they left the great Abbey ; it was not till eleven at 
night that they arrived at Montrose. There they found but a 
sorry inn, where, writes Boswell, " I myself saw another waiter 
put a lump of sugar with his fingers into Dr. Johnson's lemonade, for 
which he called him ' rascal ! ' It put me in great glee that our 

' Uefoe's Tour, p. 179. 



landlord was an Englishman. I rallied the Doctor upon this and 
he grew quiet." The town Johnson praised as "neat" "neat" 
last century stood very high among the terms of commendation, 
though it is now supplanted by "elegant" among Americans, and 
by "nice" among English people. At the time of the Rebellion 


f J 745. the townsfolk had been described as " very genteel, but 
disaffected." ' To the clerk of the English chapel Johnson gave 
" a shilling extraordinary, saying, ' He belongs to an honest church.'" 
He had the great merit also of keeping his church "clean to a 
degree unknown in any other part of Scotland," so that his shilling 
was well earned. 

1 James Ray's History of the Rebellion, p. 288. 



From Montrose the road led through a country rich with an 
abundant harvest that was almost ripe for the sickle, but bare of 
everything but crops. Even the hedges, said Johnson, were of 
stone. Boswells calls this a ludicrous description, but it could 
have been easily defended as good Scotch, for in the Scots 
Magazine for January of the previous year, we read of " the stone 
hedges of Scotland." l It is strange that Johnson had not noticed 
these roughly-built walls in Northumberland, for in the northern 
part of that county, according to Pennant, "hedges were still in 
their infancy." : At Laurencekirk our travellers stopped to dine, 


and " respectfully remembered that great grammarian Ruddiman," 
who had spent four years there as schoolmaster. More than 
seventy years before their visit, Dr. Pitcairne, the author of that 
Latin epitaph on Dundee which Dryden translated, being weather- 
bound at the village inn, " inquired if there were no persons who 
could interchange conversation and partake of his dinner." The 
hostess mentioned Ruddiman. He came, pleased Pitcairne, and 
was by him brought to Edinburgh;' Francis Garden, one of the 
Scotch judges, under the title of Lord Gardenston, the laird and 

1 Scots Magazine. 1772, p. 25. 2 Pennant's Tour, ii. 278. 

3 Chalmers's Life of RudJiman, p. 24. 


almost the founder of this thriving village, " had furnished the inn 
with a collection of books, that travellers might have entertain- 
ment for the mind as well as the body. Dr. Johnson praised the 
design, but wished there had been more books, and those better 
chosen." The inn still stands with the library adjoining it. Round 
the room is hanging a series of portraits in French chalk of 
Gardenston's " feuars," or tenants, who, after the laird, were the 
chief people of the place when Johnson and Boswell passed 
through. Many of the books remain on the shelves, though some 
have been lost through carelessness or the dishonesty of travellers. 
There are among them a few works of light literature such as 
Dryden's Virgil, and Gil Bias in French, but the solid reading 
which most of them afford makes us think with a feeling of respect 
that almost amounts to awe, of the learning of the Scotch travellers 
in those good old days. Tavern chairs were no thrones of human 
felicity in Laurencekirk if such works as the following were com- 
monly perused by those who chanced to fill them : 

Magno's Observations on Anatomy, in Latin. 
Keill's Introduction to the Study of Astronomy. 
Aristophanes, with Latin notes. 

Boerhaave's Commentaries on the Aphorisms of Diseases, natu- 
ralized into English. 

Tull's Horse-hoeing Husbandry. 
Watt's Logic. 
Newton's Principia. 
Clarke's Sermons. 
Macliiavclli, in Italian. 1 

In Marischal College, Aberdeen, there is a portrait of Lord 
Gardenston in his judge's robes. He has a somewhat conceited 
look, such as we might expect in a man who " wrote a pamphlet 
upon his village, as if he had founded Thebes," and who provided 
such improving reading for his weary fellow-creatures. 

A mile or two off the road from Laurencekirk to Aberdeen 
lived the famous old Scotch judge, James Burnett, Lord Monboddo. 
" I knew," wrote Boswell, "that he and Dr. Johnson did not love 
each other; yet I was unwilling not to visit his Lordship, and was 
also curious to see them together. I mentioned my doubts to Dr. 
Johnson, who said he would go two miles out of his way to see 

1 This information I owe to the kindness of my friend Mr. Arthur Gallon. 


Lord Monboddo." The two men had not much in common except 
their love of learning, and their precision of speech. Monboddo, 
according to Foote, was an Elzevir edition of Johnson. In a letter 
to Mrs. Thrale Johnson thus describes him : 

" He has lately written a strange book about the origin of language, in which he 
traces monkeys up to men, and says that in some countries the human species have 
tails like other beasts. He inquired for these long-tailed men of lianks, and was not 
well-pleased that they had not been found in all his peregrinations. He talked 
nothing of this to me, and I hope we parted friends ; for we agreed pretty well, only 
we disputed in adjusting the claims of merit between a shopkeeper of London and 
a savage of the American wildernesses. Our opinions were, I think, maintained on 
both sides without full conviction ; Monboddo declared boldly for the savage, and 
I perhaps for that reason sided with the citizen." 

Johnson a few years earlier had contrasted Monboddo with 
Rousseau, "who talked nonsense so well that he must know he was 
talking nonsense;" whereas, he added, "chuckling and laughing, 
' I am afraid Monboddo does not know that he is talking nonsense.'" 
He was undoubtedly a man of great learning, but he was almost 
destitute of the critical faculty. In the six volumes of his Ancient 
Metaphysics we come across such strange passages as the following: 

"Not only are there tailed men extant, but men such as the ancients describe 
Satyrs have been found, who had not only tails, but the feet of goats, and horns on 
their heads. . . . We have the authority of a father of the Church for a greater 
singularity of the human form, and that is of men without heads but with eyes in 
their breasts. . . . There is another singularity as great or greater than any I have 
hitherto mentioned, and that is of men with the heads of dogs." ' 

After stating his readiness to believe that " a tame and gentle 
animal " once existed, " having the head of a man and the body of 
a lion," he continues : 

" The variety of nature is so great that I am convinced of the truth of what 
Aristotle says, that everything exists, or did at some time exist, which is possible to 
exist." " 

The orang-outang he describes as being " of a character mild 
and gentle, affectionate, too, and capable of friendship, with the 
sense also of what is decent and becoming." The ancients, he 
stoutly maintained, were in every respect better and stronger than 
their descendants. He shocked Hannah More by telling her that 
"he loved slavery upon principle." When she asked him " how 
he could vindicate such an enormity, he owned it was because 
Plutarch justified it." 4 In one respect he was wise in following 

1 Ancient Metaphysics, iv. 45. 3 Ii>. p. 55' 

" Ib. p. 48. ' Hannah More's Memoirs, \. 252. 


the example of the ancients. In an age when bathing was very 
uncommon even among the wealthy, he constantly urged the daily 
use of the cold hath, lie reminded "our fine gentlemen and 
ladies that the Otaheite man, Oinai, who came from a country 
where the inhabitants bathed twice a day," complained of the 
offensive smell of all the people of England.' It was believed, 
however, that Monboddo impaired the health of his children by the 
hardy treatment to which he exposed them. He despised Johnson 
because "he had compiled a dictionary of a barbarous language, a 
work which a man of real genius rather than undertake would 
choose to die of hunger." 1 In the latter part of his life he used 
every year to pay a visit to London, and he always went on horse- 
back, even a f ter he had passed his eightieth year " A carriage, a 
vehicle that was not in common use among the ancients, he con- 
sidered as an engine of effeminacy and sloth. To be dragged at 
the tail of horses seemed in his eyes to be a ludicrous degradation 
of the genuine dignity ol human nature. In Court he never sat on 
the Bench with the other judges, but within the Bar, on the seat 
appropriated for Peers."' Yet with all his singularities he was a 
line old fellow. There was no kinder landlord in all Scotland. While 
around him the small farms were disappearing, and farmers and 
cottagers were making room for sheep, it was his boast that on his 
estate no change had been made. Neither he nor his father before 
him had ever turned off a single cottager. 

" One of my tenants (he wrote) who pays me no more than ,30 of rent has no 
less than thirteen cottagers living upon his farm. I have on one part of my estate 
seven tenants, each of whom possesses no more than three acres of arable land, and 
some moorish land for pasture, and they pay me no more than twelve shillings for 
each acre, and nothing for the moor. I am persuaded I could more than double 
the rent of their land by letting it off to one tenant ; but I should be sorry to in- 
crease my rent by depopulating any part of the country ; and I keep these small 
tenants as a monument of the way in which I believe a great part of the Low- 
lands was cultivated in ancient times." ' 

He befriended Burns, who repaid his kindness by celebrating 
his daughter's beauty in his Address to Edinburgh^ and by the 
elegy which he wrote on her untimely death. In a note to Guy 
Manncring Sir Walter Scott describes his supper parties, " where 
there was a circulation of excellent Bordeaux in flasks garlanded 
with roses, which were also strewed on the table after the manner 

' Ancient Metaphysics, vi. 212. ' Scots Magazine, 1799, pp. 729-731. 

* Origin of Language, v. 274. ' Ancient Metaphysics, v. 307. 


of Horace. The best society, whether in respect of rank or literary 
distinction, was always to be found in St. John's Street, Canongate. 
The conversation of the excellent old man ; his high, gentleman- 
like, chivalrous spirit ; the learning and wit with which he defended 
his fanciful paradoxes; the kind and liberal spirit of his hospitality, 
must render these nodes ccciucque dear to all who, like the author 
(though then young), had the honour of sitting at his board." 

Boswell's man-servant, who had been sent on to ascertain 
whether Lord Monboddo was at home, awaited the travellers' 
arrival at the turn in the road, with the news that they were 
expected to dinner. 

"We drove," says Boswell, "over a wild moor. It rained, and the scene was 
somewhat dreary. Dr. Johnson repeated with solemn emphasis Macbeth's speech 

on meeting the witches Monboddo is a wretched place, wild and naked, with 

a. poor old house ; though, if I recollect right, there are two turrets, which mark an 
old baron's residence. Lord Monboddo received us at his gate most courteously, 
pointed to the Douglas arms upon his house, and told us that his great-grandmother 
was of that family." 

The old arms are still above the door, with the inscription : 

" R. I. 

E. D. 


" R. I." was Robert Irvine, a colonel in the army of Gustavus 
Adolphus, the Lion of the North, and possibly the superior officer 
of Major Dugald Dalgetty. " E. D." was Elizabeth Douglas. 
Their daughter married one of the Burnetts, of Crathes Castle. 
There is nothing wretched, wild, or naked about Monboddo in the 
present day. As I saw it, no thought of a " blasted heath," and of 
Macbeth's witches could by any freak of the imagination have 
entered the mind. The land all round has been brought into culti- 
vation, and there is no moor within five miles. The road along 
which I drove was bordered by a row of beech trees, which might 
have been planted by Lord Monboddo or his father. The ancient 
part of the house, which remains much as Boswell saw it, though 
large additions have been made, so far from striking one as poor and 
wretched, has a picturesque, old-fashioned look of decent comfort. 
Close to it stand a holly and a yew, which have seen the lapse of 
more centuries than one. The lawns are wide and soft, and very 
pleasant. Hard by a brook prattles along, almost hidden by 
rhododendrons and firs. The distant view of the Grampians; the 
pure, bracing air, whether the wind blows it from the sea on the 



east or from the mountains on the west ; the lawns, the trees, the 
old house, picturesque in itself, and interesting in its associations, 
render Monboddo a most pleasant abode. In the time of the old 
judge it was no doubt bare enough. Where there are now lawns 
and llower-becls there most likely corn and turnips grew, for he was 
almost as fond of farming as he was of the ancients. When he re- 
ceived our travellers, " he was dressed," says Boswell, " in a rustic 


suit, and wore a little round hat. He told us we now saw him as 
Fanner Burnett, and we should have his family dinner a farmer's 
dinner. He produced a very long stalk of corn as a specimen of 
his crop, and said, ' You see here the leetas segetes,'" An instance of 
his " agricultural enthusiasm " used to be recounted by Sir Walter 
Scott: "Returning home one night after an absence (I think) on 
circuit, he went out with a candle to look at a field of turnips, then 
a novelty in Scotland." ' He had a glimpse, it should seem, of some 

1 Croker's Boswell, p. 288. 


of the wonders which chemistry was soon to work in agriculture, for 
being one day at Court, he told George III. that the time would 
come when a man would be able to carry in his waistcoat pocket 
manure enough for an acre of land. 1 

The " farmer's dinner" was good enough to satisfy Dr. John- 
son, for he made a very hearty meal. Yet with all the pride of a 
man who has a vigorous appetite, lie said, " I have done greater 
feats with my knife than this." The low, square, panelled room in 
which they dined is much as they saw it, with its three windows 
with deep recesses looking on to the lawns and trees. It is a solid, 
comfortable apartment, which might have recalled to Johnson's 
memory an Oxford Common- Room, and which harmonized well 
with the solid talk he had with his host. In it there is a curious 
clock, so old that it might have told the hours to Colonel Irvine and 
his wife Elizabeth Douglas, and have attracted Johnson's notice 
by its antiquity. 


Late in the afternoon our travellers drove on to Aberdeen. 
"We had tedious driving," writes Boswell, "and were somewhat 
drowsy." Though they "travelled with the gentle pace of a Scotch 
driver," nevertheless Johnson, much as he delighted in the rapid 
motion of the English post-chaise, bore this journey of five-and- 
twenty miles with greater philosophy than his friend. " We did 
not," he writes, " affect the impatience we did not feel, but were 
satisfied with the company of each other as well riding in the 
chaise as sitting at an inn." It was not far short of midnight when 
they arrived at Aberdeen. The " New Inn " at which they stopped 
was full, they were told. " This was comfortless." Fortunately 
Boswell's father, when on circuit, always put up there for the five 
nights during which he was required by law to stay in each assize 
town. 2 The son was recognized by his likeness to the father, and 
a room was soon provided. " Mr. Boswell's name," writes Johnson, 
"overpowered all objection, and we found a very good house, and 
civil treatment." A few weeks later the old judge went this same 

1 This anecdote I had from Lord Monboddo's obliged to stay five nights at every town where 
great grandson, Captain Burnett, of Monboddo they open their commission." Howard's Slate 
House, to whose courtesy I am much indebted. of Prisons, ed. 1777, p. 103. 

2 "In Scotland judges on the circuit are 


circuit. " Two men being indicted before him at Aberdeen on Sep- 
tember 30 for petty thefts, petitioned, and were banished to the 
plantations for life, their service adjudged for seven years to the 
transporter." ' What these poor wretches had " petitioned " was 
that they might be transported instead of being hanged. The 
" transporter," who bore the cost of shipping them to America, was 
rewarded for his outlay by having the use of them as slaves for 
seven years. At the end of that time they would have their 
freedom ; but if they returned to Scotland, and were seized, in all 
likelihood they would have been sent to the gallows under their old 
sentence. It is not at all improbable that these two thieves were 
in the town prison at the very time of our travellers' visit. If so, 
they were separated from them merely by a wall or two ; for the 
"New Inn "formed part of the same block of buildings as the 
common prison. In the central tower the ordinary prisoners were 
confined, two rooms in the western end being reserved for bur- 
gesses, " or any of the better rank who were committed for debt." 
The judge in all the festivities of his circuit dinner was often close 
to some poor wretch whom that same day he had sentenced to the 
gallows, and who was awaiting his dreadful end in the gloom and 
misery of his dismal cell. 

On the other side of the tower, but in the same block, was the 
Town House, or Town Hall as we should call it in England. 
When I was in Aberdeen, a man of whom I asked the way to the 
Town Hall, replied that he did not know where it was ; but when 
I corrected myself, and asked for the Town House, he at once 
showed it me. Here it was that the freedom of the city was con- 
ferred on Johnson. 

" At one o'clock (writes Boswcll) we waited on the magistrales in the town-hall, 
as they had invited us in order to present Dr. Johnson with the freedom of the 
town, which Provost Jopp did with a very good grace. Dr. Johnson was much 
pleased with this mark of attention, and received it very politely. There was a 
pretty numerous company assembled. It was striking to hear all of them drinking, 
' Dr. Johnson ! Dr. Johnson !' in the town-hall of Aberdeen, and then to see him 
with his burgess-ticket, or diploma, in his hat, which he wore as he walked along 
the street, according to the usual custom." 

The hall in which the ceremony was performed was a room " 46 
feet long, 29 broad, and 18 high, with five large windows in front, 
with many elegant sconces double-branched set round it, and three 

1 Scots Magazine, Oct. 1773, p. 556. 

2 V. Douglas's General Description of t lie East Coast of Scotland, p. 91. 


diamond-cut crystal lustres hanging from the roof." ' It has been 
swept away with the New Inn and the. prison, and replaced by the 
stately pile which rises on the old site. The Scotch towns last 
century seem to have been somewhat lavish in the honours which 
they conferred. Pennant was made a freeman of at least three or 
four places. Monck Berkeley, the St. Andrew's student, had the 
freedom of Aberdeen and some other towns presented to him, 
though he was scarcely nineteen when he left Scotland. Like the 
dutiful young gentleman that he was, "he constantly presented the 
diulomas to his mother requesting her to take great care of them." : 
George Colman the younger, who, at the age of eighteen was sent 
to King's College, says in his Random Records:* "I had scarcely 
been a week in Old Aberdeen, when the Lord Provost of the New 
Town invited me to drink wine with him one evening in the Town 
Hall ; there I found a numerous company assembled. The object 
of this meeting was soon declared to me by the Lord Provost, who 
drank my health, and presented me with the freedom of the city." 
Two of his English fellow-students, of a little older standing, had 
received the same honour. A suspicion rises in the mind that it 
was sometimes not so much a desire to confer honour as to drink 
wine at the public expense which stirred up these town-councillors. 
Nevertheless, the testimony of an English gentleman, who a few 
years earlier had been made a citizen of Glasgow, goes far to- 
wards freeing them from so injurious a supposition. " The magis- 
trates," he wrote, " are all men of so reasonable a size, and so clear 
of all marks of gluttony and drunkenness, that I could hardly be- 
lieve them to be a mayor and aldermen." With the distinction 
itself, on whatever account it was given, Johnson was greatly 
pleased. " I was presented," he wrote, " with the freedom of the 
city, not in a gold box, but in good Latin. Let me pay Scotland 
one just praise ; there was no officer gaping for a fee ; this could 
have been said of no city on the English side of the Tweed." In 
his own University of Oxford the fee for the honorary degree of 
D.C. L. used to be ten guineas. Cox, the Esquire Bedel, records 
in his Recollections of Oxford, how glum Canning looked when he 
was called on to pay it/' Wesley, who in the April of the previous 
year had been made a freeman of Perth, praised the Latinity in 

1 F. Douglas's General Description , &Y. , p. 4 Gentlemiuts Magazine, 1766, p. 210. 

89. 5 Cox's Recollections of Oxford (eel. 1868), 

2 G. M. Berkeley's Poems, p. cclxxiv. p. 156 

3 Vol. ii. p. 99. 


which the honour was conferred on him. " I doubt," he wrote, 
" whether any diploma from the City of London be more pompous 
or expressed in better Latin." 

The burgess-ticket or parchment on which the freedom was 
inscribed, after being read aloud in the hall, was made into a roll, 
and, with the appending seal, was tied on to the new citizen's hat 
with red riband. " I wore," wrote Johnson, "my patent of freedom 
pro more in my hat from the new town to the old, about a mile." 
In his narrative he states that it is worn for the whole day. In a 
town of 16,000 inhabitants for Aberdeen had no more at that 
time 2 it might be supposed that the face of the youngest freeman 
would thus become known to most of his brother-burgesses. But 
the population at the present day is seven or eight times as large, 
and the old custom has died out, perhaps because its use was lost. 
On those rare occasions when the honour is conferred the diploma 
is still tied to the hat. The new citizen covers himself for a 
moment, and then bares his head while he returns thanks. He 
might, I was told, perhaps wear his ticket for a short distance to 
his hotel or a club, but certainly not farther. The entry of 
Johnson's freedom in its good Latin still remains in the City 
Register. I read it with much interest. 

Our travellers, as they passed a Sunday in Aberdeen, went to 
the English chapel. The word chapel, as my friend Dr. Murray 
has clearly pointed out in his learned Dictionary, which in England 
was generally used of the places of worship of the Nonconformists, 
and in Ireland of those of the Roman Catholics, in Scotland was 
properly and universally applied to the English churches. It is 
the term used both by Boswell and Johnson. Mrs. Carlyle in one 
of her early letters describes a certain Haddington Episcopalian as 
"a man without an arm, who sits in the chapel." 1 "We found," 
says Boswell, " a respectable congregation and an admirable organ." 
By respectable he meant what would a little later have been de- 
scribed as genteel. " The congregation," wrote Johnson, " was 
numerous and splendid." The volunteer who accompanied the 
Duke of Cumberland's army in 1747 described the chapel as the 
finest he had seen in Scotland. "The handsomest young ladies," 
he adds, " are generally attendants of those meeting-houses (as 
they call them here), and are generally esteemed as Jacobites by 

1 Wesley 'i, Journal, iii. 461. 2 Pennant's Tour, \. 121. 

3 Early Letters off. W. Carlyle, p. 45. 


the staunch Whigs." Wesley, who had attended the service here 
a year earlier than Johnson, "could not but admire the exemplary 
decency of the congregation. This was the more remarkable," 
he adds, " because so miserable a reader I never heard before. 
Listening with all attention I understood but one single word, 
Balak, in the First Lesson, and one more, begat, was all I could 
possibly distinguish in the Second." : The Aberdeen chapel was 
no doubt one of those licensed ones " served by clergymen of 
English or Irish ordination," where alone in Scotland the form of 
worship of the Church of England could be legally practised. At 
St. Andrews Boswell recorded that he had seen " in one of its 
streets a remarkable proof of liberal toleration ; a nonjuring clergy- 
man strutting about in his canonicals, with a jolly countenance, and 
a round belly, like a well-fed monk." By an Act of Parliament 
passed in 1747, a heavy and cruel blow had been struck at the 
Scotch nonjurors as a punishment for the support which many of 
them had given to the young Pretender. Under severe penalties 
all clergymen were forbidden to officiate who had received their 
ordination from a nonjuring bishop, even though they took the 
oaths. They had now to undergo some of the suffering which in 
their day of triumph they had inflicted on the Covenanters. They 
in their turn sought the shelter of woods and moors. We read of 
one of them at Muthill, in Perthshire, " baptising a child under the 
cover of the trees in one of Lord Rollo's parks to prevent being 
discovered." 3 Two years later one Mr. John Skinner had been 
sent to Aberdeen jail for six months for officiating contrary to law. 
He survived this persecution fifty-five years, and so was contem- 
porary with persons still living. 4 By another act all episcopal 
clergymen were required, whenever they celebrated worship before 
five people, to pray for the King and the members of the Royal 
Family by name, under the penalty of six months' imprisonment 
for the first offence, and of banishment to America for life for the 
second. Many under this act were thrown into jail, and so late as 
1755 one unhappy man was banished for life. 5 Others complied 
with the law at the expense of their lungs. An English lady who 

1 A Journey through Part of England, d-v., 3 Chambcrs's History of the Rebellion o/ 1745 
p. 134. (ed. 1827), ii. 339. 

2 Wesley's Journal, iii. 461. The lessons 4 Scotland and Scotsmen in the I-.i^litu-nlh 
were Numbers xxiii. xxiv., and Matthew \. In Century, \. 525-8. 

these chapters Balak and begat come over and "' Arnot's Histoiy of Edinburgh, p. 227. 

over again. 


visited Scotland about the year 1778, says: "I have heard a 
reverend old divine say that he has read the English liturgy so 
repeatedly over to only four that frequently by evening he has 
scarce been able to speak to be heard." The persecutions had 
come to an end by the: time of Johnson's visit. The nonjuring 
ministers were, he says, " by tacit connivance quietly permitted in 
separate congregations." On the death of the young Pretender on 
January 3ist, 1788, the nonjuring bishops met at Aberdeen and 
directed that, beginning with Sunday, May 25th, King George 
should be prayed for by name. His Majesty was graciously 
pleased to notify his approbation." liven a tutor or " pedagogue " 
in a gentleman's family was required to take the oaths. This 
difficulty, however, was easily surmounted. They could be en- 
gaged " under the name of factor, or clerk, or comrade," as the 
Bishop of Moray pointed out in a letter written in 1754." 

In Aberdeen there were two Colleges, or rather two Universities, 
for each had professors of the same parts of learning and each con- 
ferred degrees. In 1860 they were incorporated into one body. In 
old Aberdeen stood King's College. The Chapel and its " Crowned 
Tower," founded by James IV. who fell at Flodden, has survived 
time and restorers. They are much as Johnson saw them. Of 
their architectural beauty and of the ancient richly carved oak 
screen he makes no mention : " He had not come to Scotland," he 
said, "to see tine places, of which there were enough in England ; 
but wild objects peculiar manners ; in short, things which he had 
not seen before." The discipline of the Universities and the 
method and cost of instruction he examined with attention. In 
Scotch universities the students generally lived as they live at 
present in lodgings in the town, scarcely under even the pretence 
of control except in the hours in which they attended lectures. But 
in King's College a few years earlier the English system had been 
introduced. Dr. Thomas Reid, the famous Professor of Moral 
Philosophy, in a letter written in 1755 gives an interesting account 
of the change which had been made : 

"Th*; students have lately been compelled to live within the college. We need 
but look out at our windows to see when they rise and when they go to bed. They 
are seen nine or ten times throughout the day statedly by one or other of the masters 
at public prayers, school hours, meals, and in their rooms, besides occasional visits 

1 G. M. Berkeley's Poems, p. dxxxviii. " Scots Magnetic for 1788, pp. 250, 357. 

3 Ounbar's Social Lijc in Fonnet' Days, i. 10. 


which we can make with little trouble to ourselves. They are shut up within walls 
at nine at night. This discipline hath indeed taken some pains and resolution, as 
well as some expense to establish it. The board at the first table is 50 merles' per 
quarter ; at the second, 40 shillings. The rent of a room is from seven to twenty 
shillings in the session. There is no furniture in their rooms but bedstead, tables, 
chimney grate and fender the rest they must buy or hire. They provide fire, and 
candle, and washing to themselves. The other dues are two guineas to the Master ; 
to the Professors of Greek and Humanity f Latin') for their public teaching, five 
shillings each. All other perquisites not named, from twelve shillings to seventeen 
and sixpence." 2 


Whether this reformed system lasted in its full extent to the time 
of Johnson's visit, I do not know ; some part of it at all events re- 
mained. "In the King's College," he says, "there is kept a public 
table, but the scholars of the Marischal College are boarded in the 
town." In Aberdeen, as well as in the other Scotch Universities, 
students from England were commonly found. Johnson was sur- 
prised at finding in King's College a great-grandson of Waller the 

1 A Scotch mcrk was about thirteen pence of 
English money. 

2 Dunbnr's Social Life in f'ormcr Days, i. 7. 



poet. Hut in the state of degradation into which the English 
Universities were sunk, what was more natural than that young 
Englishmen should be sent to places where the Professors still 
remembered that they had a duty to perform as well as a salary to 
receive ? I have seen in the Royal Society of Edinburgh a manu- 
script letter written by Dr. Hlair from that town to David Hume in 
i 765, in which he says : " Our education here is at present in high 
reputation. The Englishes are crowding down upon us every 


season, and I wish may not come to hurt us at last." Excellent 
though the Aberdeen Professors were as teachers, yet before the 
great Englishman they seemed afraid to speak. Johnson, writing 
to Mrs. Thrale, said : " Boswell was very angry that they would 
not talk." 

In Marischal College scarcely a fragment remains of the old 
building which our travellers saw, except the stone with the curious 
inscription : " Thay haif said ; quhat say thay ; lat thame say." In 
the spacious modern library is shown, however, a famous picture 


which Reynolds was at that time painting. On that very morning 
when Robertson was showing Johnson Holyrood Palace, Reynolds 
began the allegorical picture in which he represented Truth and the 
amiable and harmonious Beattie triumphing together over scepticism 
and infidelity. 1 It was commonly said that in the group of dis- 
comfited figures could be recognized the portraits of Voltaire and 
Hume. Goldsmith, if we may trust Northcote, reproached 
Reynolds " for wishing to degrade so high a genius as Voltaire 
before so mean a writer as Dr. Beattie." 1 If Voltaire's face is to 
be found in the picture, the likeness is so remote that even he, 
sensitive though he was, could scarcely have take offence, while of 
Hume not even the caricature can be discovered. Feeble though 
the allegory is, the portrait of Beattie is a very fine piece of work- 
manship. In Marischal College, by the generosity of his grand- 
nieces it has found its fitting resting-place, for here for many years 
he was Professor of Moral Philosophy. Here a few years earlier 
he had been visited by Gray, who, to quote Johnson's words, 
" found him a poet, a philosopher, and a good man." : 


(AUGUST 24-25.) 

At Aberdeen Johnson had found awaiting him a letter from 
London which must have been six days on the road.' He did not 
receive another till he arrived at Glasgow, nearly ten weeks later. 
He was now going " to the world's end extra anni solisqnc vias, 
where the post would be a long time in reaching him," to apply to 
the Hebrides the words which four years later he used of Brighton.'' 
It was only seven and twenty years before he drove out from 
Aberdeen that the Duke of Cumberland with six battalions of foot 
and Lord Mark Kerr's dragoons had marched forth along the same 
road to seek the rebels. With a gentle breeze and a fair wind his 
transports at the same time moved along shore." Though no 

1 Forbes's Life of Beattie, p. 160. half by the Aberdeen and Edinburgh Fly, which 

* Northcote's Life of Reynolds (ed. 1819), i. set out from the New Inn at four o'clock in the 

300. morning, and arrived at Edinburgh next day to 

3 Johnson's Works, viii. 479. dinner ; fare, 2 2s. Scottish Notes and Queries, 

1 In 1786 the post despatched from Aber- i. 31. 

deen on Monday reached London on Saturday. ' Piozzi Letters, i. 387. 

Travellers could reach Edinburgh in a day and a " Ray's History of the Rebellion, p. 310. 



military slate waited upon our travellers yet their fame went before 
them. At Kllon, where they breakfasted, the landlady asked 
Boswell : " Is not this the great Doctor that is going about through 
the country ? There's something great in his appearance." "They 
say," said the landlord, " that he is the greatest man in England, 
except Lord Mansfield." They turned here out of their course to 
visit Slains Castle, the seat of the Earl of Errol. The country 
over which they drove this day was more desolate than any through 

which they had as yet passed. In one place, writes Johnson, " the 
sand of the shore had been raised by a tempest, and carried to such 
a distance that an estate was overwhelmed and lost." Sir Walter 
Scott, who in the summer of 1814, sailed along the shore in a 
Lighthouse Yacht, says that northwards of Aberdeen " the coast 
changes from a bold and rocky to a low and sandy character. 
Along the Bay of Belhelvie a whole parish was swallowed up by the 
shifting sands, and is still a desolate waste. It belonged to the 
Earls of Errol, and was rented at ,500 a year at the time. When 


these sands are past the land is all arable. Nut a tree to be seen; 
nor a grazing cow, or sheep, or even a labour-horse at grass, though 
this be Sunday." ' The Earl who welcomed Johnson to Slains Castle 
had done what he could to overcome nature. " He had cultivated 
his fields so as to bear rich crops of every kind, and he had made an 
excellent kitchen-garden with a hot-house." His successors have 
diligently followed in his steps, and taking advantage of a hollow in 
the ground have even raised an avenue of trees. They can only 
grow to the height of fifteen or twenty feet, for when the shoots rise 
high enough to catch the blasts from the North Sea they are cut 
down the following winter. The situation of the Castle struck 
Johnson as the noblest he had ever seen. 

" From the windows (he said) the eye wanders over the sea that separates Scot- 
land from Norway, and when the winds beat with violence, must enjoy all the terrific 
grandeur of the tempestuous ocean. I would not for my amusement wish for a storm ; 
but as storms, whether wished or not, will sometimes happen, I may say, without 
violation of humanity, that I should willingly look out upon them from Slains 

Boswell was also impressed with the position of this old house, 
set on the very verge of life. " The King of Denmark," he says, 
" is Lord Errol's nearest neighbour . on the north-east." The 
Castle was built on the edge of the granite cliffs, in one spot not 
leaving even a foothold for the daring climber. A foolhardy fellow 
who had tried to get round lost his life in the attempt. I was 
greatly disappointed at finding that "the excellent old house" 
which Boswell describes, with its outside galleries on the first and 
second story, no longer remains. I had looked forward to standing 
in the very bow-window of the drawing-room fronting the sea where 
Johnson repeated Horace's Ode, Jam satis tcrris. In the new 
building, however, the bow-window has not been forgotten, and 
there I looked out on the wild scene which met his view. I saw 
" the cut in the rock made by the influx of the sea," into which the 
rash climber had fallen as he tried to go round the Castle. Below 
me there were short slopes of grass ending in a precipice. So 
near was the edge that a child could have tossed a ball over it from 
the window. Red granite rocks in sharp and precipitous headlands 
ran out into the sea. A fishing-boat with brown sails was passing 
close by, while in the distance in a long line lay a fleet of herring- 
smacks. The sea-birds were hovering about and perching on the 

1 Lockhart's Lift of Scott, iv. 1 86. 



rocks, mingling their melancholy cries with the dashing of the 
waves. The dark waters were surging through the narrow chasms 
formed by rocky islets and the steep sides of the cliffs. For the 
storm-tost sailor it is a dreadful coast. On a wild night in winter 
not man)' years ago one of the maids, as she was letting clown the 
blinds in the drawing-room, heard confused sounds which came, she 
thought, from the servants' hall beneath. The butler in another 
part of the house had caught them too. Yet when they reproached 
their fellow-servants with their noisiness they were told that it was 
not from them that the sounds had come. They thought no more 


about it that night, but next morning when the day broke the masts 
were seen of a ship-wrecked vessel on the rocks below the Castle. 
The waves were breaking over it, and not a soul was left alive. 
Then they understood that it was the despairing cries of the 
unhappy sailors which had in vain reached their ears. The story, 
that was told me as I stood looking out on the sea, gave an air of 
sadness to a room which had already raised sad thoughts in my 
mind. For on the wall was hanging the portrait of an innocent and 
pretty boy who, before so many years were to pass over him, on the 
scaffold on Tower Hill was to pay the penalty of rebellion with his 


" Pitied by gentle minds Kilmarnock died." 


On the table was lying a curious but gloomy collection of the 
prints of his trial and execution. 1 Boswell's rest was troubled by 
the thoughts of this unhappy nobleman. He had been kept awake 
by the blazing of his fire, the roaring of the sea, and the smell of 
his pillows, which were made of the feathers of some sea-fowl. " I 
saw in imagination," he writes, " Lord Errol's father, Lord Kil- 
marnock, who was beheaded on Tower Hill in 1746, and I was 
somewhat dreary." 

In the drawing-room was hanging that fine whole-length picture 
of Lord Errol, which led Johnson to talk of his friend, the great 
painter, and "to conclude his panegyric by saying, 'Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, sir, is the most invulnerable man I know ; the man with 
whom if you should quarrel, you would find the most difficulty how 
to abuse.' " 

In the rebellion of 1/45, Lord Errol, following a plan not un- 
known among the Scotch nobility, had served on the opposite side 
from his father. At Culloden he had seen him brought in prisoner. 
" The Earl of Kilmarnock had lost his hat, and his long hair was 
flying over his face. The son stepped out of the ranks, and taking 
off his own hat placed it over his father's disordered and wind- 
beaten locks." 1 The young man in his loyalty to George II., did 
not follow the example of his forefathers, for he was descended 
from at least three lines of rebels. " He united in his person the 
four earldoms of Errol, Kilmarnock, Linlithgow, and Callander." 
The last two were attainted in 1715, and Kilmarnock in I746. 3 
As we gaze at the haughty-looking man whom Reynolds has so 
finely painted in the robes of a peer, we call to mind the corona- 
tion of George III., where he played his part as High Constable 
of Scotland " the noblest figure I ever saw," wrote Horace Wai- 
pole. 1 To Johnson he recalled Homer's character of Sarpedon. 5 
At the coronation banquet in Westminster Hall, Walpole thought, 
as well he might, on that " most melancholy scene " which he had 
witnessed less than fifteen years before in that same hall, when the 
earl's father, " tall and slender, his behaviour a most just mix- 

1 Bound up with them were some interesting 3 Chambers's History of the Rebellion, ed. 

and unpublished autograph letters and documents 1869, p. 309. 

connected with many generations of the earls of 3 Forbes's Life of Bcntlie, Appendix I). At 
Errol. It is greatly to be desired that the pre- the time of the rebellion of 1745 the Errol title- 
sent earl, to whose courtesy I am much indebted, was held by a woman, 
would have them edited. ' Walpole's Letters, iii. 438. 
5 Forbes's Life of Beattie, Appendix D. 



ture between dignity and submission," had in vain pleaded for 


From Slains Castle our travellers drove a short distance along 

the coast to the famous Bullers of Huchan -"a sight," writes 

Johnson, "which no man can see with indifference, who has either 

sense of danger or 
delight in rarity." 
Boswell describes the 
spot as : 

"A circular basin ol 
large extent, surrounded 
with tremendous rocks. 
On the quarter next the 
sea, there is a high arch in 
the rock, which the force 
of the tempest has driven 
out. This place is called 

fiucliatfs Jiitl/er, or the 

Bnl/er of Jhicltan, and the 

country people call it the 

Pot. Mr. Boyd said it 

was so called from the 

French bouloir? It may 

be more simply traced 

from boiler in our own 

language. We walked 

round this monstrous 

cauldron. In some places 

the rock is very narrow ; 

and on each side there is 

a sea deep enough for a 

man-of-war to ride in ; so that it is somewhat horrid to move along. However, 

there is earth and grass upon the rock, and a kind of road marked out by the print 

of feet; so that one makes it out pretty safely : yet it alarmed me to see Dr. Johnson 

striding irregularly along." 

As the weather was calm they took a boat and rowed through 
the archway into the cauldron. " It was a place," writes Johnson, 


1 Walpole's Letters, ii. 38. 

" Boitilloirc. According to Dr. Murray the 
word is connected with "the Swedish Iniller, a 
noise, roar. But," he adds, "the influence of 
boil is manifest." I remember when I visited 

the place in my youth I heard it also called 
Lord Errol's Punch-bowl. The tale was told 
that a former earl had made a seizure in it of a 
smuggling ship laden with spirits, and had had 
the kegs emptied into the water. 

DUN BUY. 129 

"which, though we could not think ourselves in danger, we could 
scarcely survey without some recoil of mind." lie thought that 
" it might have served as a shelter Irom storms to the little vessels 
used by the northern rovers." Sir Walter Scott, however, was told 
that this was impossible, for "in a high gale the waves rush in 
with incredible violence. An old fisher said he had seen them 
flying over the natural wall of the Bullers, which cannot be less than 
two hundred feet high." 1 In the Gentleman 's Magazine for 1755 
(p. 200), two strange pictures are given of this curious place, which 
must surely have been drawn in St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell, by 
an artist who had never seen it. 

Not far off is Dun Buy," a lofty island rock placed in an angle 
of the shore that is formed by no less lofty cliffs. The sea, with 
its dark waters in endless rise and fall, washes through the narrow 
channel, its ceaseless murmur answering to the cries of the count- 
less water-fowl who high up on the ledges breed in safety. On one 
side, where there is a steep, grassy slope, Dun Buy can be scaled. 
I climbed up it many years ago one hot summer's day, and thought 
that I had never seen so strange and wild a spot. Johnson had 
also visited it, but his mind was not affected as was my young 
imagination, for he said that " upon these rocks there was nothing 
that could long detain attention." 


Starting from Slains Castle on the morning of August 25, 
Boswell and Johnson drove on to Banff, where they spent the night 
in an indifferent inn. In this little town a dreadful sight had been 
witnessed when the Duke of Cumberland's army arrived on an 
early day in April, 1746. The savage way in which the narrative 
is written, testifies to the ferocity of many of the followers of " the 
butcher duke." 

"At Banff" (writes Ray) " two rebel spies were taken ; the one was knotching on 
a stick the number of our forces, for which he was hanged on a tree in the town ; 
and the other a little out of town, and for want of a tree was hanged on what they 
call the ridging-tree of a house that projected out from the end, and on his breast 

1 Lockhart's Life of Scott, iv. 188. its name, it is said, from the colour given to it 

- Uun liuy means (lie Yellow Rock. It gets by llie clung of the sea-birds. 



was fixed in writing, A Rebel S/>y, which, with the addition of good entertainment, 
illicit have been a very famous sign." 1 

From Banff our travellers drove on to Elgin, passing through 
Lord Findlater's domain. It is strange that neither of them men- 
tions the passage of the Spey, which ofttimes was a matter of great 
difficulty and even danger. Wesley describes it as " the most rapid 
river, next the Rhine, he had ever seen." : It was no doubt very 
low, owing to " that long continuance of dry weather which," as John- 
son complained a few days later, " divested the Fall of Foyers of 
its dignity and terror." At .Elgin they dined, and dined badly. 
" It was," he said, " the first time he had seen a dinner in Scotland 
that he could not eat." He might have reasonably expected some- 
thing better, for in the account of Scotch inns given in the Gentle- 
man 's Magazine for 1771 (p. 544), the Red Lion at Elgin, kept by 
Leslie, is described as good. It is added that "he is the only 
landlord in Scotland who wears ruffles." As this was the inn in 
which the civic feasts were always held, the honour not only of 
the landlord, but also of the town was wounded by the publication 
of Johnson's narrative. I am glad to be able to inform the world 
that a satisfactory explanation has been given, and that Elgin and 
the Red Lion were not guilty of the inhospitality with which they 
have so long been reproached, and so unjustly. It seems that for 
some years before Johnson's visit a commercial traveller, Thomas 
Paufer by name, used in his rounds to come to this inn. 

" He cared little about eating, but liked the more exhilarating system of 
drinking. His means were limited, and he was in the habit of ordering only a very 
slender dinner, that he might spend the more in the pleasures of the bottle. This 
traveller bore a very striking resemblance to Dr. Johnson. When the doctor arrived 
at the inn, the waiter, by a hasty glance, mistook him for Paufer, and such a dinner 
was prepared as Paufer was wont to receive. The doctor suffered by the mistake, 
for he did not ask for that which was to follow. Thus the good name of Elgin 
suffered, through the mistaking of the person of the ponderous lexicographer. This 
fact is well known, and is authenticated by some of the oldest and most respectable 
citizens of the town." J 

Mr. Paufer's means must have been indeed limited, for unless 
prices had greatly risen in the previous thirty years, a good dinner 
and wine could have been provided at a most moderate charge, to 

1 James Ray's History of the Rebellion of 1 745, lins copied it from a manuscript in his possession 

P- 3"- which was written at least as early as the year 

" Wesley's Journal, iii. 182. 1837. To him also I am indebted for the 

3 This account I owe to the kindness of Mr. sketch of the old piazzas. 
Lnchlan Mackintosh, of Old Lodge, Elgin, who 





judge by the following entries in an Elgin "funeral bill," dated 
Sept 26, 1742 : 

"One dozen strong old claret (bottles being returned) . 14.1-. o,L 

4 Ib. 12 oz. of sugar ........ 3^-. ^d. 

five dozen eggs ........ $d. 

six hens . . ....'... 2$. oJ." l 

One pound of sugar, it will be noticed, cost as much as two 
hens, and a little more than eight dozen eggs. With sugar at such 
a price it must have given a shock to a careful Scotch housewife to 

see well-sweetened lemonade flung out of the window merely be- 
cause a waiter had used his dirty fingers to drop in the lumps. 

To Johnson Elgin seemed " a place of little trade and thinly 
inhabited." Yet Defoe, writing only fifty years earlier, had said : 
" As the country is rich and pleasant, so here are a great many 
rich inhabitants, and in the town of Elgin in particular, for the 
gentlemen, as if this was the Edinburgh or the Court for this part 
of the island, leave their Highland habitations in the winter, and 
come and live here for the diversion of the place and plenty of 
provisions." ' 

1 Dimbar's Social Life in Former Days, \. '' Defoe's Tunr t/iron^/i Great Britain : Ac- 

276. count of Scotland, iu. 193. 

32 THE P1A//.AS IN KI.dlN. 

Much of its ancient prosperity has returned to it. If it cannot 
boast of being a court for the north, it is at all events a pleasant 
little market-town that shows no sign of decay. The covered ways 
which in many places ran on each side of the street have disap- 
peared. " Probably," writes Boswell, " it had piazzas all along the 
town, as I have seen at Bologna. I approved much of such 
structures in a town, on account of their conveniency in wet 
weather. Dr. Johnson disapproved of them, 'because,' said he, 
' it makes the under story of a house very dark, which greatly 
overbalances the conveniency, when it is considered how small a 
part of the year it rains ; how few arc usually in the street at such 
times ; that many who are might as well be at home ; and the little 
that people suffer, supposing them to be as much wet as they com- 
monly are in walking a street." " They were a grand place for 
the boys to play at marbles," said an old man to me, who well 
remembered the past glories of Elgin and the delights of his 
youth, liven at the time of our travellers' visit, they were fre- 
quently broken by houses built in the modern fashion. In many 
cases they have not been destroyed, but converted into small 
shops. " There are," writes a local antiquary, " some fine old 
piazzas in the High Street which have been whitewashed over and 
hidden." He suggests that some of these might be restored to 
the light of day. 1 It would be a worthy deed for the citizens, even 
in one spot, to bring back the former appearance of their ancient 

The noble ruins of the great cathedral Johnson examined with 
a most patient attention, though the rain was falling fast. " They 
afforded him another proof of the waste of reformation." His in- 
dignation was excited even more than by the ruins at St. Andrew's; 
for " the cathedral was not destroyed by the tumultuous violence of 
Knox, but suffered to dilapidate by deliberate robbery and frigid 
indifference." By an order of Council the lead had been stripped 
off the roof and shipped to be sold in Holland. " I hope," adds 
Johnson, "every reader will rejoice that this cargo of sacrilege was 
lost at sea." On this passage Horace Walpole remarks in a "letter 
to Lord Hailes : " I confess I have not quite so heinous an idea 
of sacrilege as Dr. Johnson. Of all kinds of robbery that appears 
to me the lightest species which injures nobody. Dr. Johnson is 
so pious, that in his journey to your country he flatters himself that 

1 The Elgin Cottrant and Courier, Aug. 23, 1889. 


all his readers will join him in enjoying the destruction of two 
Dutch crews, who were swallowed up by the ocean after they had 
robbed a church. I doubt that uncharitable anathema is more in 
the spirit of the Old Testament than of the New." l While John- 
son censured the frigid indifference of the Scotch, he did not forget 
the ruin that was being slowly worked in England by the avarice 
and neglect of deans and canons. " Let us not," he wrote, " make 



too much haste to despise our neighbours. Our own cathedrals 
are mouldering by unregarded dilapidation. It seems to be part 
of the despicable philosophy of the time to despise monuments of 
sacred magnificence, and we are in danger of doing that delibe- 
rately which the Scots did not do but in the unsettled state of an 
imperfect constitution." He had learnt, there seems good reason to 
believe, that the chapter of the cathedral of his own town of Lich- 
field intended to strip the lead off its roof and cover it instead with 

1 Walpole's Letters, vii. 484. .It was only one ship that was lost, though in it the lead of 
two cathedrals was conveyed. 



slate. As he had first printed his narrative lie had much mure 
closely pointed the attack. It had run as follows : " There is now, 
as I have heard, a body of men not less decent or virtuous than 
the Scottish council, longing to melt the lead of an English cathe- 
dral. What they shall melt, it were just that they should swallow." 
Helore publication he had the: leaf cancelled, from the tender recol- 
lection that the dean had done him a 
kindness about forty years before. " He 
is now very old, and I am not young. 
Reproach can do him no good, and in 
myself I know not whether it is zeal 
or wantonness." 

As I turned away from the ruins 
with my thoughts full of the past of 
the ancient glory of the cathedral, of 
the strange sights which had been 
seen from its tower when the Young 
Pretender's Highlanders hurried by, 
closely followed by the English army, 
of old Johnson wandering about in the 
heavy rain I was suddenly reminded 
of the vastness of " the abysm of time" 
by which they are separated from us, 
by reading in an advertisement pla- 
carded on the walls, that for /, 3 i6s. $d. 
could be had a ticket from Elgin to 
Paris and back. 



Leaving Elgin that same afternoon, our travellers drove on to 
Fores, where they passed the night. Next morning, continuing 
their journey early, they breakfasted at Nairn. " Though a county 
town and a royal burgh, it is," writes Boswell, " a miserable place." 
Johnson also describes it as being " in a state of miserable decay." 
Nevertheless, "the chief annual magistrate," he says, "is styled 
Lord Provost." If it sank as a royal burgh, it has raised its head 

1 Boswell's /o.'mson, vi. xxxiii. 


again as a popular bathing-place. In this respect it has not its 
rival, I was told, in the north of Scotland. Here Johnson "fixed 
the verge of the Highlands; for here he first saw peat fires, and 
first heard the Erse language." Over the room in the inn where 
he and Hoswell sat "a girl was spinning wool with a great wheel, 
and singing an Erse song." It was thirty years later that Words- 
worth in like manner heard "The Solitary Reaper" : 

"Yon solitary Highland lass 
Reaping and singing by herself." 

Even so far back as the reign of James VI. both languages were 
spoken in Nairn. " It was one of that king's witticisms to boast 
that in Scotland he had a town ' sae lang that the folk at the tae 
end couldna understand the tongue spoken at the tother.' ' 
Gaelic is no longer heard in its streets. The verge of the High- 
lands must now be fixed farther to the west. Nine years before 
Johnson's visit the little town had been stirred up by Wesley. On 
Monday, June n, 1764, he recorded in his journal: "While we 
were dining at Nairn, the innkeeper said, 'Sir, the gentlemen of 
the town have read the little book you gave me on Saturday, and 
would be glad if you would please give them a sermon.' Upon my 
consenting, the bell was immediately rung, and the congregation 
was quickly in the kirk." 

From Nairn our travellers turned a few miles out of their 
course to visit the Rev. Kenneth Macaulay in his manse at 
Cawdor. To Johnson he was known by his History of St. Kilda 
" a very pretty piece of topography " as he called it to the 
author, " who did not seem much to mind the compliment." To 
us he is interesting as the great-uncle of Lord Macaulay. " From 
his conversation," says Boswell, " Dr. Johnson was convinced that 
he had not written the book which goes under his name. ' There 
is a combination in it' (he said) 'of which Macaulay is not 
capable.' ' " To those who happen to have read the work," 
writes Sir George Trevelyan, "Johnson's decision will give a very 
poor notion of my ancestor's abilities." 4 Let him take comfort. The 
present minister of Cawdor, to whose civility I am indebted, told 

1 The language of the Highlanders is generally pherson, in the title-page of Ossiari, calls it 

called Erse by the Knglish writers of this period ; dalic. 

sometimes Irish and Celtic. M'Nicol objected 2 Murray's Handbook far Scotland, ed. 1867, 

to the term Krse. " The Caledonians," he says, p. 308. 

"always called their native language Gaelic." 3 Wesley'sy0>-/, iii. 182. 

Remarks on Johnson's fourney, p. 432. Mac- * Life of Lord Macaulay, ed. 1877, i. 6. 


me that in the Kirk Session Records is a minute by Macaulay 
" most beautifully expressed." I had hoped to sit in the very 
parlour where Johnson had reproached him with being "a bigot 
to laxness," and where he had given his little son a Sallust, pro- 
mising at the same time to get him a servitorship at Oxford when 
he was ready for the University. But hopes that are based on 
the permanence of buildings are often disappointed. Of the 
old manse nothing remains. The minister, who rejoiced in having 
a more comfortable home than his predecessors, refused to share in 
my sentimental regrets. The situation seemed a pleasant one, as 
I saw it on a fine evening in July, with the sun setting behind the 

hills on the other side of 
the Moray Firth. The 
haymakers were busy at 
their work close to the 
house, in a field which 
is bounded on one side 
by a deep hollow, with 
a little brook flowing at 
the bottom, and in front 
by a row of old ash 

In the company of 
Macaulay Boswell " had 
dreaded that a whole 
evening would be heavy. 
I Iowever,"headds,"Mr. 

Grant, an intelligent and well-bred minister in the neighbourhood, 
was there, and assisted us by his conversation." His grandson is 
Colonel Grant, who shares with Captain Speke the glory of having 
discovered the sources of the Nile. It was indeed an unusual 
gathering that August evening in the parlour of the quiet manse- 
Johnson, the first of talkers, Boswell, the first of biographers, the 
great-uncle of our famous historian, and the grandfather of our 
famous discoverer. My hopes rose high when I was told that a 
diary which Mr. Grant kept was still in existence. Of this even- 
ing's talk some record surely would have been made. With 
sorrow I learnt from his grandson that " accounts of expenses, 
sermons preached, peat-cutting, stipends, washing twice a year, 
births, &c., are the principal things which are mentioned." This 



washing twice a year must not be taken as a proof that this divine 
" had no passion for clean linen." A Scotch friend of mine re- 
members a man who owned three farms in the neighbourhood of 
Campbeltown. In his house they only washed twice a year, 
though both he and his three sons who lived with him changed 
their shirts every second day. A time was chosen when there was 
a slackness in the ordinary work, and then the female servants 
were gathered from the three farms for a week's hard washing. 
This same custom exists, I 
believe, to the present day in 
Norway. In the churchyard I 
found Mr. Grant's tombstone. 
He lived till 1828 fifty five 
years after he had met John- 
son. He used to tell a story 
about the doctor which 
happily has been preserved. 
He had supped with him, as 
we learn from Boswell, at the 
inn at Inverness. Johnson, 
who was in high spirits, gave 
an account of the kangaroo, 
which had lately been dis- 
covered in New South Wales, 
" and volunteered an imita- 
tion of the animal. The com- 
pany stared ; Mr. Grant said 
nothing could be more ludi- 
crous than the appearance of 
a tall, heavy, grave-looking 
manlike Dr. Johnson standing up to mimic the shape and motions of a 
kangaroo. He stood erect, put out his hands like feelers, and gather- 
ing up the tails of his huge brown coat so as to resemble the pouch 
of the animal, made two or three vigorous bounds across the room." ' 
Near Mr. Grant lies his friend and predecessor Kenneth 
Macaulay, with an inscription which tells that he was " notus in 
fratres animi paterni." This animus palcrnns descended in full 
measure to Lord Macaulay. On the porch of the church is still 
fastened by an iron chain the old penance-ring which Pennant saw 

' Iloswell's _///, ed. by Carruthers, p. 96. 



one hundred and twenty years ago. " Observed," he writes, " on 
a pillar of the door of Calder church njoiig, i.e., an iron yoke or ring, 
fastened to a chain ; which was in former times put round the necks 
of delinquents against the rules of the Church, who were left there 
exposed to shame during the time of divine service, and was also 


used as a punishment for defamation, small thefts, &c., but these 
penalties are now happily abolished." 1 From such penance as this 
there was perhaps an escape for those who were well-to-do. From 
Hndibras we learn that the Presbyterian saints could " sentence to 
stools or poundage of repentance," which passage is explained by the 
commentator as " doing penance in the Scotch way, upon the stool 
of repentance, or commuting the penance for a sum of money." 5 

1 Pennant's Tour in Scotland, i. 155. - Hudibras, iii. I, 1477. 


" By the direction of Mr. Macaulay," writes Johnson, " we visited 
Cawdor Castle, from which Macbeth drew his second title." That 
they should have needed a direction to visit so beautiful a spot 
seems strange, for they must have passed close by it on their way 
to the manse. As I first caught sight of it by the light of a summer 
evening, I thought that I had rarely seen a fairer spot. This castle 
hath indeed a pleasant seat, I said. All the barrenness of the 
eastern coast I had left behind me, and had found in its stead a 
luxuriance of growth that would have graced the oldest mansion in 
England. Everything seemed beautiful, and everything harmonious 
the ancient castle, 
with its high-pitched 
roof and its lofty 
tower ; the swift-flow- 
ing river, with its 
bridge of a single arch ; 
the curve in the road 
where it crosses it ; 
the avenue of lofty 
trees, the lawns en- 
closed by limes, the 
shrubberies, and the 
range of mountains 
in the distance still 
showing the light of the sun which had set for us. The water 
murmured pleasantly, and a gentle breeze rustled the leaves. I 
found a little inn close by the park gate, where homely fare 
and decent lodging are provided. A man of a quiet meditative 
mind might pass a few days there pleasantly enough if he sought 
shelter in the woods on the afternoons when the castle is thrown 
open to visitors. Next morning I watched the school-children, 
bare-footed, but clean and tidy, carrying on their arms their slates 
covered with sums in neat figures, trooping merrily by, and winding 
over the bridge on their way to school. By the kindness of the 
Earl of Cawdor I was allowed to go over the castle from turret 
almost to foundation-stone at a time when it was not generally open. 

"The old tower," says Boswell, " must be of great antiquity. There is a draw- 
bridge what has been a moat and an ancient court. There is a hawthorn-tree, 
which rises like a wooden pillar through the rooms of the castle ; for, by a strange 
conceit, the walls have been built round it. The thickness of the walls, the small 


I 4 


slanting windows, and a great iron door at the entrance on the second story as you 
ascend the stairs, all indicate the rude times in which this castle was erected. There 
were here some large venerable trees." 

It is surprising that he should have thought that there could ever 
have been a moat on a rock high above the river. Johnson never- 
theless also mentions it. What they mistook for a moat is the 

excavation made in quarrying the stone for the castle. In clearing 
it out some while ago, the workmen came to a place where the 
masons had left some stones half dressed. Mr. Irving, who visited 
Cawdor, has had the fine entrance copied, I am told, in his scenery 
for Macbeth, adding, however, a portcullis, of which no traces re- 
main. I was shown in a kind of vault the trunk of the old haw- 
thorn which Boswell mentions. There is a tradition that " a wise 


man counselled a certain thane to load an ass with a chest full of 
gold, and to build his castle with the money at the third hawthorn- 
tree at which the animal should stop." The ass stopped where 
Cawdor Castle is built, and the tree was enclosed. The thane's 
only child, a little girl, was carried off by Campbell of Inverliver, 
on Loch Awe. In his flight he was overtaken by the Cawdors. 
Being hard pressed, "he cried out in Gaelic, ' It is a far cry to 
Loch Awe, and a distant help to the Campbells,' a saying which 


became proverbial in the north to express imminent clanger and 
distant relief." 1 He won the day, however, and the child when 
she grew 1 up married a son of the Earl of Argyle. From them is 
descended that " prosperous gentleman," the present Thane or 
Earl of Cawdor. 

I passed through the great iron door which Boswell mentions, 
and other strong doors too, and climbed up the staircase which is 
built in the thickness of the wall. I was shown the place in the 
roof where Lord Lovat, when fleeing from justice early in his bad 
career, had lain in hiding for some weeks. I saw, moreover, more 

1 Boswell's Hebrides, e<\. by R. Carrutherr,, p. 85. 

i 4 2 CULLODEN. 

than one chamber living with old tapestry. In one of them stands 
the state bed of Sir Hugh Campbell, who in 1672 married Lady 
Henrietta Stewart. Their initials, with the date, are carved on the 
outside wall of the court. At one end of the hall runs a gallery 
which bears the name of the Fiddler's Walk. There the musicians 
used to play, keeping time with their steps to their tune. 


From Cawdor Johnson and Boswell drove to Fort George, 
"the most regular fortification in the island," according to Johnson ; 
" where," he continues, " they were entertained by Sir Eyre Coote, 
the Governor, with such elegance of conversation, as left us no 
attention to the delicacies of his table." Wolfe, who saw it in 
1751, when it was partly made, writes : " I believe there is still 
work for six or seven years to do. When it is finished one may 
venture to say (without saying much) that it will be the most con- 
siderable fortress, and the best situated in Great Britain." ' In the 
evening our travellers continued their journey to Inverness a 
distance of twelve miles. The reviewer of Johnson's narrative in 
the Scots Magazine expresses his wonder that as " he must have 
passed near the Field of Cullotlen he studiously avoided to men- 
tion that battle." 2 Boswell is equally reticent. The explanation 
is perhaps merely due to the dusk of evening, in which they passed 
by the spot. It is not unlikely, on the other hand, that the silence 
was intentional. Johnson shows a curious reticence in a passage 
in which he refers to the Rebellion of 1745. In his description of 
Rasay he writes: " Not many years ago the late laird led out one 
hundred men upon a military expedition." Had he visited Cullo- 
den or described the campaign, his indignation must have flamed 
forth at the cruelties of the butcher duke. Boswell, Lowlander 
though he was, said " that they would never be forgotten." With 
Smollett, in his Tears of Scotland, they might well have ex 
claimed : 

" Yet when the rage of battle ceased, 

The victor's soul was not appeased : 

The naked and forlorn must feel 

Devouring flames and murd'ring steel." 

'- Wright's Life of Wolfe, p. 178. 2 Scots Magazine, 1775, p. 26. 





Johnson does indeed speak of " the heavy hand of a vindictive 
conqueror." ' It was about this time, or only a little later, that 
Scott was learning " to detest the name of Cumberland with more 
than infant hatred." ' That an Englishman could travel in safety, 
unarmed and unguarded, through a country which only seven and 
twenty years before had been so mercilessly treated seems not a 
little surprising. For the next day or two he was to follow a 
course where fire and sword had swept along. Wolfe, whose 
"great name," we boast, was "compatriot with our own," who had 
so little of the savage spirit of war that he would rather have 
written Gray's Elegy than take Quebec, even he exulted that " as 
few prisoners were taken of the Highlanders as possible. We had 
an opportunity of avenging ourselves. The rebels left near 1,500 
dead." Yet he did not think that enough had been done. The 
carnage-pile was not lofty enough. Surveying the battle-field five 
years later, he writes in a letter to his father, a general in the 
army, " I find room for a military criticism. You would not have 
left those ruffians the only possible means of conquest, nor suffered 
multitudes to go off unhurt with the power to destroy." :i Ruffians 
indeed they had shown themselves in their raid into England, but 
enough surely had been done in the way of slaughter to satisfy 
the most exacting military critic. How merciless our soldiers had 
been is proved by the letters that were written from the camp. A 
despatch sent off from Inverness on April 25, nine days after the 
battle, says that " the misery and distress of the fugitive rebels was 
inexpressible, hundreds being found dead of their wounds and 
through hunger at the distance of twelve, fourteen, and even 
twenty miles from the field." 4 On June 5 an officer wrote from 
Fort Augustus : "His Royal Highness has carried fire and sword 
through their country, and driven off their cattle, which we bring 
to our camp in great quantities, sometimes 2,000 in a drove. The 
people are deservedly in a most deplorable way, and must perish 
either by sword or famine, a just reward for traitors." 5 

On July 26 another officer wrote from the same fort to a friend 
at Newcastle : " We hang or shoot everyone that is known to con- 
ceal the Pretender, burn their houses and take their cattle, of 
which we have got some 8,000 head within these few days past, so 

1 Johnson's Works, ix. 86. 4 Gentleman's Magazine, 1746, p. 263. 

' Lockharl's Life of Scott, \. 24. 3 Ib,, p. 324. 

3 Wright's Life of Wolfe, 1864, pp. 84-5, 179. 


that if .some of your Northumberland graziers were here they 
might make their fortunes." ' The author of a J'/ai/i Narrative of 
the Rebellion, tells with exultation how " they marched to Loch 
Yell, the stately scat of old Esquire Cameron," the Lochiel of 
Campbell's spirited lines. " 11 is fine chairs, tables, and all his 
cabinet goods were set on fire and burnt with his house. His fine 
fruit garden, above a mile long, was pulled to pieces and laid 
waste. A beautiful summer-house that stood in the pleasure 
garden was also set on fire. From hence the party marched along 
the sea-coast through Moidart, burning of houses, driving away the 
cattle, and shooting those vagrants who were found about the 
mountains.. For fifty miles round there was no man or beast to 
be seen." ; Andrew Henderson, in his History of the Rebellion, after 
admitting that in the rout several of the wounded were stabbed, and 
some who were lurking in houses were taken out and shot, urges 
by way of excuse that " the rebels had enraged the troops ; their 
habit was strange, their language still stranger, and their way of 
fighting was shocking to the utmost degree."' Besides the mas- 
sacre after the battle and the executions by courts-martial, there 
were the hangings, drawings and quarterings, and beheadings 
by judge and jury. Seventy-six had been sent to the scaffold 
by September, 1747,' and above one thousand were transported. 5 
Even George II. "said that he believed William had been rough 
with them." When it was proposed to confer on the duke the 
freedom of the City of London, an alderman was heard to say that 
it ought to be the freedom of the Butchers' Company. So late as 
the summer of 1753 seven rebels were seized in a hut on the side 
of Loch Hourn, at no great distance from the way along which 
Johnson was to pass only twenty years later. 7 Nevertheless he 
everywhere travelled in safety. Among the chieftains, no doubt, 
" his tenderness for the unfortunate House of Stuart" was known, 
but to the common people he would only be an Englishman a 
man of the race that had slaughtered their fathers and wasted their 
country. That both he and Boswell were not free from uneasiness 
they avowed when at Auchnasheal they were surrounded by the 
wild McCraas. In the memory of men not much past the middle 

1 Gentleman's Magazine, 1746, \>, 429. Smollett the number executed was eighty-one- 

* Michael Huglies's Plain Narrative of /lie History of England, K&. 1800, iii. 188. 

Ktbellion, p. 56. 5 Gentleman's Magazine, 1 747, p. 246. 

3 HeaA&c$Qb'&ffistoryoftheKe6ellion,\). 117. " Marchmont Papers, i. 196. 

4 Scots Magazine, 1747, p. 649. According to 7 Gentleman's Magazine, 1753, P- 39' 


age, tales of the cruel duke: used to he told in the winter evenings 
in the glens of these Western Highlands. They have at last died 
away, and "infant hatred" is no longer nourished. 1 

Our travellers, whatever may have been their motive, leaving 
the Field of Culloden un visited and unnoticed, arrived at Inver- 
ness, the capital of the Highlands. They put up at Mackenzie's 
Inn. Of their accommodation they say nothing; but it can 
scarcely have been good, if we may trust an English traveller who 
two years earlier had found, he said, the Horns Inn, kept by 
Mrs. Mackenzie, dirty and ill-managed. 13 Perhaps they felt as 
Wolfe did when he was stationed in the town with his reiriment 


" It would be unmanly," he wrote, "and very unbecoming a soldier 
to complain of little evils, such as bad food, bad lodging, bad fire. 
. . . With these reflections I reconcile myself to Inverness, and to 
other melancholy spots that we are thrown upon." He adds that 
the post goes but once a week, and that as there are rapid rivers 
on the road that have neither bridge nor boat, it is often delayed 
by the floods/' Wesley describes Inverness as the largest town he 
had seen in Scotland after Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. 
" It stands in a pleasant and fruitful country, and has all things 
needful for life and godliness. The people in general speak re- 
markably good English, and are of a friendly, courteous beha- 
viour." ' Their good English they were said to derive from the 
garrison which Cromwell had settled among them. It had been 
noticed by Defoe. " They speak," he said, " perfect English, even 
much better than in the most southerly provinces of Scotland ; nay, 
some will say that they speak it as well as at London, though I do 
not grant that neither." b Their behaviour had greatly improved 
in the thirteen years which had elapsed between Wolfe's second 
and Wesley's first visit, unless the soldier had viewed them with 
the stern eye of the conqueror, or they had displayed the sullen- 
ness of the conquered. " A little while," he wrote, " serves to 
discover the villainous nature of the inhabitants and brutality of 
the people in the neighbourhood." " Yet the brutality was quite 
as much on the side of the army, for a year later, five full years 
after the battle, we find the people still treated with harshness and 
insolence. The magistrates had invited Lord Bury, the general in 

' My informant is the late Rev. Alexninlt-T ' Wesley's Journal, Hi. iSi. 

Matheson, minister of Glenshiel. ' I lefoe's Account of Scotland, \i. 196. 

3 Gentleman's Magazine, 1771, p. 544. " Wright's Life of IVolfe, \>. 177. 
3 Wright's Life of Wolfe, pp. 182, 195. 



command, to an entertainment on the Duke of Cumberland's 
birthday. " He said he did not doubt but it would be more 
agreeable to the duke if they postponed it to the day following, 
the anniversary of Culloden. They stared, said they could not pro- 
mise on their own authority, but would go and consult their body. 
They returned, told him it was unprecedented and could not be 
complied with. Lord Bury replied he was sorry they had not 
given a negative at once, for he had mentioned it to his soldiers, 
who would not bear a disappointment, and was afraid it would pro- 
voke them to some outrage upon the town. This did ; they 
celebrated Culloden." l 

The old town had witnessed a strange sight in the first days 
after the battle. The soldiers had held a fair for the sale of the 
plunder which they had made. " The traffic on the Rialto Bridge 
was nothing in comparison to the business done by our military 
merchants ; here being great sortments of all manner of plaids, 
broad-swords, dirks and pistols, and plaid-waistcoats, officers' laced 
waistcoats, hats, bonnets, blankets, and oatmeal bags." : The 
severity that was so long exercised by government at length sank 
into neglect. Only five years before the arrival of our travellers 
all the prisoners, just before the opening of the Assize, made their 
escape from the town jail ; " so the Lord Pitfour," a writer to 
the Signet wrote, " will have the trouble only of fugitation and 
reprimanding the magistrates." 3 How miserable the jail was is 
shown in a memorial from the Town Council, dated March 17, 
1 786, stating that " it consists only of two small cells for criminals, 
and one miserable room for civil debtors. Their situation is truly 
deplorable, as there are at present and generally about thirty 
persons confined in these holes, none of which is above thirteen 
feet square."' While the poor prisoners were so cruelly treated, 
the lawyers had a merry time of it every time that so hospitable 
a judge as Boswell's father came the circuit : 

" Lord Auchinleck made a most respectable figure at the head of his circuit 
table. It was his rule to spend every shilling of his allowance for the circuit a 
thing less to be expected that in everything else he was supposed to be abundantly 
economical. He had a plentiful table. He laughed much at the rule laid down 
by some of his brethren of asking gentlemen but once to dinner. 'It is,' said he, 
' treating them like beggars at a burial, who get their alms in rotation.' " 5 

' Letters of Horace Walpole, ii. 288. ' //-., p. 89. 

s M. Hughes's Plain Narrative, p. 51. 5 Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth 

J E. Dunbar's Social Life in Former Days, i. Century, i. 164. 


We are not surprised that Boswell found that " everybody at 
Inverness spoke of Lord Auchinleck with uncommon regard." 

The English chapel, which Johnson describes as " meanly built, 
but with a very decent congregation," was pulled down many years 
ago. On its site, in the midst of the same old graveyard, another 
building has been raised in what may be perhaps called the church- 
warden style. Of Macbeth's castle " what is called the castle of 
Macbeth," writes Johnson with his usual caution nothing remains. 
If we may trust Boswell, " it perfectly corresponded with Shake- 
speare's description." It ha"s been replaced by "a modern 
building of chaste castellated design," to borrow the language of 
the guide-book. I was told, however, that our travellers had been 
misinformed, and that " the old original Macbeth's castle" stood on 
a height a little distance from the town. This " pleasant seat" has 
been treated, I found, even worse than its rival ; for a builder, 
thinking that the air " might nimbly and sweetly recommend itself" 
to the public as well as to a king, began the erection of a crescent. 
Owing to a difficulty about a right of way, the speculation hitherto 
has not been so successful as might have been feared. 

At Inverness the Lowland life came to an end. To the west 
of that town no road had ever been made till some years after the 
rising of 1715. All beyond was the work of General Wade and 
the other military engineers. " Here," writes Johnson, " the 
appearance of life began to alter. I had seen a few women with 
plaids at Aberdeen, but at Inverness the Highland manners are 
common. There is, I think, a kirk in which only the Erse 
language is used." The plaid, which was not peculiar to the 
Highlands, had been rapidly going out of fashion. Ramsay of 
Ochtertyre says that in 1747, when he first knew Edinburgh, nine- 
tenths of the ladies still wore them. Five years later " one could 
hardly see a lady in that piece of dress. In the course of seven or 
eight years the very servant girls were ashamed of being seen in 
that ugly antiquated garb." ' The Gaelic language does not seem 
to have lost much ground in Inverness, for I was told that there 
are five churches in which it is used every Sunday at one of the 

1 Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century, ii. 88. 



At Inverness Johnson bade farewell to post-chaises, which had 
brought him in comfort all the way from London. " This day," 
writes Boswell, " we were: to begin our equitation, as I said ; for I 
would needs make a word too. We might have taken a chaise to 
Fort Augustus, but had we not hired horses at Inverness we should 
not have found them afterwards. We had three horses for Dr. 

Johnson, myself, and 
Joseph, and one which 
carried our portman- 
teaus, and two High- 
landers who walked 
along with us." They 
took but little bag- 



moderation "in climb- 
ing crags and treading 
bogs. How often," 
continues Johnson, "a 
man that has pleased 
himself at home with 
his own resolution, 
will in the hour of 

darkness and fatigue be content to leave behind him everything but 
himself." After leaving the Fort they were " to enter upon a country 
upon which perhaps no wheel had ever rolled." In the Commercial 
Map of Scotland, published by J. Knox in 1 784, there is not a single 
road marked in any one of the Hebrides. After long wanderings, and 
the lapse of almost seven weeks, "Johnson's heart was cheered by the 
sight of a road marked with cart-wheels as on the mainland, a thing 
which we had not seen for a long time. It gave us a pleasure similar 
to that which a traveller feels when, whilst wandering on what he 
fears is a desert island, he perceives the print of human feet." It 
was in pleasant weather that they began their ride. " The day 
though bright was not hot. On the left were high and steep rocks 



shaded with birch and covered with fern or heath. On the right 
the limpid waters of Loch Ness were beating their bank and waving 
their surface by a gentle agitation." In one part of the way, adds 
Johnson, " we had trees on both sides for perhaps half a mile. Such 
a length of shade, perhaps, Scotland cannot show in any other 
place." Boswell, though he thought Fleet Street more delightful 
than Tempe, nevertheless felt the cheering powers of this delightful 
day. " The scene" he found " as sequestered and agreeably wild 

pftft; ' '' i'^-V 

*"o> ":'''' I "'i'' ^ 


as could be desired." Pennant, who had been there four years 
earlier, describes the scenery as " most romantic and beautiful." 
Wesley thought the neighbourhood of Inverness one of the 
pleasantest countries he had ever seen. 2 In striking contrast with 
the enjoyment of these four travellers are the feelings of those who 
a few years before had seen the spot when the alarms of war were 
still fresh. "On each side of Loch Ness," writes Ray, "is a ridge 
of most terrible barren woody mountains. You travel along the 
banks through a road made by blowing up monstrous rocks, which 

1 Pennant's Tour in Scotland, i. 196. 

2 Wesley's Journal, iv. 27$. 


in many place's hang declining over passengers and higher than 
houses, so that 'tis frightful to pass by them." ./ I'olnulecr de- 
scribes the mountains " as high and frightful as the Alps in Spain ; 
so we had nothing pleasant to behold but the sky." 

Our travellers halted for dinner at the General's Hut, a small 
public-house nearly eighteen miles from Inverness/ 1 Here, says 
Johnson, Wade had lodged " while he superintended the works 
upon the road." I have seen it stated in a guide-book that on its 
site is built the Foyer's Hotel, but this is a mistake. In the Map 
of the Kings Roads made by General Wade, dated 1 746, " the 
General Hutt" (sic] is marked just where the road takes a sudden 


bend to the south, a short distance after which it passes the church 
of Burlassig. Dr. Garnett, who travelled through the Highlands 
at the end of the century, says that " the present public-house, 
which is still called the General's Hut, is very near the place where 
Wade had a small house, which was afterwards used as an inn. It 
commands a delightful view up the lake." The change of site must 
have been made, it would seem, between his visit and Johnson's. 

' Ray's History of the Rebellion, p. 362. 

* M. Hughes's Plain Narrative, p. 53. 
Alps, I suppose, he uses as Milton does for lofty 
mountains in general. 

3 In a Survey of the Province of Moray, pub- 
lished at Aberdeen in 1798, on pp. 333-34, the 
following table is given of the distances along 

the road which Johnson was following : 
" From Inverness to the General's Hut, 17 
miles 6 furlongs. From General's Hut to Fort 
Augustus, 14 miles 2 furlongs. From Fort 
Augustus to Unach [? Anoch], 9 miles. From 
Unach to Rattachan, 25 miles 5 furlongs. 
From Rattachan to Bernera, 9 miles. 




The old inn was on the north-east or Inverness side of the church, 
whereas the Foyers Hotel is a little distance beyond it to the south- 
west. It is a pity that the ambition of landlords has not allowed 
the old name to remain. It was the only thing I found wanting in 
this comfortable hotel. Sir Walter Scott was surprised that " when 
these roads were made there was no care taken for inns. The 
King's House and the General's Hut are miserable places," he 
adds, "but the project and plans were purely military." 1 Johnson, 
however, was not dissatisfied with his entertainment. " We found," 
he says, " the house not ill-stocked with provisions. We had eggs 
and bacon, and mutton, with wine, rum, and whisky. I had water." 
The little church hard by Boswell describes as " the meanest parish 
kirk I ever saw. It is a shame it should be on a high road." It 
might have been pleaded, perhaps, as an alleviation of its disgrace, 
that the high road had come to it and that it had not come to the 
high road. His reproach seems to have had some effect, for it has 
been removed to another place. The ruins, however, still remain. 
A middle-aged woman who dwells in the neighbourhood told me 
that "there was an old man living when she first came, who said 
he did not mind when it was a church, but his father did." 

While Boswell mentions the mean kirk, with his indifference to 
natural objects he passes over in silence the celebrated Falls of 
Fiers or Foyers. He does not even mention the bridge over the 
river, or the rocks which on three sides of it rise to a great height. 
Here Johnson's imagination was deeply impressed, for he describes 
them as "exhibiting a kind of dreadful magnificence; standing like 
the barriers of nature placed to keep different orders of being in 
perpetual separation." Dismounting from their horses, " we 
clambered," he writes, " over very rugged crags, till we came at 
last to a place where we could overlook the river, and saw a 
channel torn, as it seems, through black piles of stone, by which 
the stream is obstructed and broken, till it comes to a very steep 
descent, of such dreadful depth, that we were naturally inclined to 
turn aside our eyes. But we visited the place at an unseasonable 
time, and found it divested of its dignity and terror. Nature never 
gives everything at once. A long continuance of dry weather, 
which made the rest of the way easy and delightful, deprived us of 
the pleasure expected from the Falls of Fiers." This same month 
Mason, the poet, was complaining that the cascades at Lodore had 

1 Croker's Boswell, 8vo, ed. p. 307. 



been " reduced l)y the dry season to a scanty rill, which took away 
more than half the beauties of the scene." 

It was dark when our travellers reached " the wretched inn" at 
Fort Augustus. Happily it was not in it that they were to lodge, 
for the governor invited them to sleep in his house. Of the fort, 
the rebels had made a bonfire on April 15, 1740, the day before 
Culloden, " to celebrate the Duke of Cumberland's birthday." It 
had since been rebuilt and greatly strengthened, "being surrounded 
by two trenches filled with water, and having draw-bridges, strong 


walls, and bastions. " : Nothing is left of it. Where rough soldiers 
once carried things with a high hand, now smooth priests rule. On 
the site of the old fortifications which bore the second name of the 
butcher duke has been raised a college and monastery dedicated to 
St. Benedict. Johnson long remembered the rest which he enjoyed 
in the governor's hospitable home. Nearly four years later he re- 
corded in his diary : " I passed the night in such sweet uninter- 
rupted sleep as I have not known since I slept at Fort Augustus." 
The following year, writing to Boswell, he said, " The best night 
that I have had these twenty years was at Fort Augustus." From 

Walpole's Letters, v. 501. 

- Kay's History of the Rebellion, p. 325. 

Ib., p. 362. 







this spot to the sea-shore opposite Skye they had about forty-four 
miles of highland paths to traverse. This part of their journey 
they were forced to divide very unequally, as Anoch, the only 
place where they could find entertainment, was scarcely a third of 
the way. Crossing the mountains by a road which had been made 
" with labour that might have broken the perseverance of a Roman 
legion," early in the afternoon they came " through a wild country" 
to Glenmorison. 1 They did not, as the guide-book says, follow the 
course of the river Moriston from Invermoriston, but joined it some 
miles higher up, above the fine scenery and the wild tumble of 
water which are shown in the accompanying sketch. This fact I 
did not discover till too late. Anoch Johnson describes as " stand- 
ing in a glen or valley 
pleasantly watered by 
a winding river. It 
consists of three huts, 
one of which is distin- 
guished by a chimney." 
It was in the house 
thus distinguished that 
they lodged. When I 
visited this spot last 
summer, we halted at 
a farmhouse hard by 
to rest our horses and 

take some lunch. We sat on the bank of a dried-up brook, 
beneath a row of witch-elms. A cuckoo was Hying about, resting 
now and then on the garden wall. "Its two-fold shout" it 
scarcely uttered, thinking, perhaps, that as it was the month of 
June, it would be " heard, not regarded." The wind rustled in 
the leaves, the river, blue beneath a blue sky, ran swiftly by, now 
under a shady bank, and now round a stony foreland, till it lost 
itself at last from our sight behind a bend. To the west rose lofty 
mountains; on the other side of the valley were sloping hills. We 
lunched on frothing milk, oat-cakes, scones, and butter ; the sheep 
dogs playing around us, and with wistful gaze asking for their 
share of the feast. We lay on the ground and looked across the little 
ravine at an old hut that was "distinguished by a chimney." This 



1 I adopt Boswell's spell in: 

Johnson calls it Glenmollison. It is now gc-iiL-rally written 



we all voted, and very likely with truth on our side, was the 
very place where our travellers had lodged. Talking of " far-off 
things," of Johnson and the copy of Cocker's Arithmetic which he 
gave to his landlord's " gentle and pleasing daughter," of her father's 
library of odd volumes, and of the old hut and the old life, an hour 
slipped quickly and pleasantly by. 

As our travellers " passed on through the dreariness of solitude" 
on their way hither, they had come upon a party of soldiers work- 
ing on the road, to whom they gave a couple of shillings to spend 
in drink. " With the true military impatience of coin in their 
pockets," these men had followed them to the inn, "having marched 
at least six miles to find the first place where liquor could be 
bought." There they made merry in the barn. " We went and 
paid them a visit," writes Boswell; " Dr. Johnson saying, 'Come, 

let's go and give 'em another shil- 
ling a-piece.' We did so, and he 
was saluted ' MY LORD ' by all of 
them." Johnson avows that one 
cause of his generosity was re- 
gard to his and Boswell's safety. 
" Having never been before in a 
place so wild and unfrequented, I 

THATCHED HOUSE. was g lad of their arrival, because 

I knew that we had made them 

friends ; and to gain still more of their good-will, we went to them 
when they were carousing in the barn, and added something to our 
former gift." The money was ill-bestowed. " The poor soldiers 
got too much liquor. Some of them fought and left blood upon 
the spot, and cursed whisky next morning." Perhaps Johnson had 
them in his mind when, a few years later, he said, " Why, sir, a 
common soldier is usually a very gross man." To the degradation 
of one of the English regiments which had been stationed in the 
Highlands, testimony is borne by Wolfe, who on his return from 
Scotland in 1 753, wrote : " If I stay much longer with the regiment 
I shall be perfectly corrupt ; the officers are loose and profligate, 
and the soldiers are very devils." Johnson soon found that he had 
no need of a guard. His host had indeed fought in the Highland 
army at Culloden, but he was a quiet honest fellow. The account 
which he gave of the campaign moved Boswell to tears. If he 

1 Wright's Life of Wolfe, p. 279. 


told them the following story which I have found in Henderson's 
History of the Rebellion, he would have moved also Johnson to 
anger. A party of the Grants of Glenmorison had joined the 
Pretender's army at Edinburgh. The laird, who had remained 
loyal, came, after the battle of Culloden, " with about five hundred 
of his vassals to Inverness, whence they were sent into the country 
of the Macintoshes. Hereupon the Grants in the rebellion begged 
his intercession. He repaired to the Duke of Cumberland, and 
said, ' Here are a number of men come in with their arms, who 
would have submitted to none in Britain but to me.' 'No!' 
answered the duke ; 'I'll let them know that they are my father's 
subjects, and must likewise submit to me.' So he gave orders to 
embark them with the other prisoners, and they were shipped off 
to Tilbury Fort." * Smollett tells how great numbers of the mise- 
rable captives who were sent to London by sea, being crowded in 
the holds of the vessels, " perished in the most deplorable manner 
for want of necessaries, air, and exercise." 1 If the Grants escaped 
this fate, very likely they were transported to America. 


It was a long and heavy journey that this day lay before our 
travellers, so that they rose in good time and started about eight 
o'clock. Boswell, who had awakened very early, had been a little 
scared by the thought that " their landlord, being about to emi- 
grate, might murder them to get their money, and lay it upon the 
soldiers in the barn." " When I got up," he adds, " I found Dr. 
Johnson asleep in his miserable stye, as I may call it, with a 
coloured handkerchief round his head. With difficulty could I 
awaken him." So miserable had their beds looked that " we had 
some difficulty," writes Johnson, " in persuading ourselves to lie 
down in them. At last we ventured, and I slept very soundly in 
the vale of Glenmorison amidst the rocks and mountains." I he 
road which they were to follow is but little traversed at the present 
day, for tourists either keep to the south by the Caledonian Canal, 
or to the north by the railway to Strome Ferry. They thereby 
miss, to use Boswell's words, "a scene of as wild nature as one 

1 Henderson's Histotyof the Rebellion, p. 122. 2 Smollett's History of EnglanJ, iii. 183. 


could see." To this part ol my tour I had long looked forward. 
It is many a year since 1 first formed the wish to visit that 
" narrow valley not very flowery, but sufficiently verdant," where 
Johnson planned the history of his tour. 

" I sat down on a bank (lie says) such as a writer of romance might have 
delighted to feign. I had indeed no trees to whisper over my head, but a clear 
rivulet streamed at my feet. The day was calm, the air was soft, and all was rude- 
ness, silence, and solitude. Before me and on either side were high hills, which by- 
hindering the eye from ranging, forced the mind to find entertainment for itself. 
Whether I spent the hour well I know not, for here I first conceived the thought of 
this narration." 

In a letter to Mrs. Thrale he describes the same scene, but 
makes no mention of the book which he had in mind. 

" I sat down to take notes on a green bank, with a small stream running at my 
feet, in the midst of savage solitude, with mountains before me, and on either hand 
covered with heath. I looked around me, and wondered that I was not more 
affected, but the mind is not at all times equally ready to be put in motion. If my 
mistress and master, and Queeney ' had been there, we should have produced 
some reflections among us either poetical or philosophical, for though solitude be 
the nurse of woe, 2 conversation is often the parent of remarks and discoveries." 

My hopes of finding this classical rivulet were great. A kind 
correspondent, the Rev. Alexander Matheson, minister of Glen 
Shiel, had been told by some old people of the neighbourhood that 
they knew by tradition the exact spot. Though he had nearly 
twenty miles to come, he undertook to show me it. I arrived at 
the little inn at Glume earlier than he had expected, and there 
meeting him found to my disappointment that I had passed the 
spot some six or seven miles. Both horses and travellers were too 
weary to retrace their steps. The tradition of the old people had 
on further investigation proved to be worthless. Like myself he 
had been at first misled by Boswell's narrative, which places 
this happy valley at the western end of Glen Shiel. But on 
looking at Johnson's account, aided too by his own knowledge of 
the locality, he had detected the error. The rivulet by which they 
had made their noonday halt must have been in Glen Clunie, near 
the eastern end of the loch, for Johnson describes how after their 
rest " they continued their journey along the side of a loch which 
at last ended in a river broad and shallow. Beyond it is a valley 
called Glen Shiel." For my disappointment there was some con- 

1 He means Mr. and Mrs. Thrale and their li'iitiiient. Pope, in Donne's Satires Versifad (iv. 
eldest daughter. 185), calls " solitude the nurse of sense." 

* Johnson is quoting 1'arnell's Hyntn to Con- 


solation to be found. The long drought ot nearly two months 

which had preceded my tour had dried up those rivulets which 

Johnson crossed, running, as he describes them, " with a clear, 

shallow stream over a 

hard, pebbly bottom." 

The main river had 

still water in it ; but 

we saw few indeed of 

" the streams rushing 

down the steep" which 

fed it. In that part 

of the narrow valley 

where he reposed we 

should have had only 

a choice of dried-up 

watercourses, had we 

tried to select the 

bank on which he sat. 
For me Yarrow still 
remains unvisited. I 
have still to see 

" Its silvery current flow 
With uncontrolled meander- 

Passing through 
Glen Clunie, which 
now boasts of a little 
inn where the traveller 
can find clean, if 
homely lodgings, they 
reached Glen Shiel. 

It is worth notice that though the word Glen is in Johnson's 
Dictionary, so unfamiliar was it at this time to English ears, that 
using it in the letter in which he describes this day's journey, 
he adds, "so they call a valley." In Glen Shiel, writes Boswell, 



they saw "where the battle was fought in 1719." It was in the 
second and last of the Spanish invasions of our island that 
this fight took place. An armament of ten ships of war and 
transports, having on board 6,000 regular troops with arms for 
12,000 men, had sailed from Cadiz under the command of the 
Duke of Ormond, in the hope of restoring the Stuarts to that 
throne which they had forfeited by their tyranny and their folly. 
The winds and waves fought for us, as they had fought long 
before in the time of the Great Armada. Two ships only suc- 
ceeded in reaching the coast of Scotland. They landed their 
troops near Eilan Donan Castle on Loch Duich, the seat of the 
chief of the Mackenzies. Four years earlier the fighting men of 



this clan had gone off to join the forces of the Earl of Mar, and 
had taken part in the battle of Sheriffmuir. The grandfather of 
the present minister of the parish in which Eilan Donan stands, 
had known an aged parishioner, who had seen the clansmen dance 
on the leads of the castle the evening before they started on their 
expedition. There were among them four chieftans, each bearing 
the name of John, and known as "the four Johns of Scotland." 
They all danced at Eilan Donan, and all fell at Sheriffmuir. I was 
told also of a tradition which still exists among the people, that at 
Glen Shiel the clansmen had sent their women and children to 
wave flags on the hills as if they were a fresh body of men. 
Deceived by this appearance, the regular troops had at first 
retreated. The battle with the Spaniards was fought at a spot 
where on both sides the mountains draw close, and the valley 



narrows to a ravine through which the river when swollen by the 
rains rushes foaming along in fine cascades. Along the right bank 
the rocks were so steep that till the present road was cut no pas- 
sage was possible ; on the left bank there was a narrow opening 
beneath a precipitous crag. A little above the uppermost of the 
waterfalls the country folks still point out " the black colonel's 
grave" some swarthy Spaniard, perhaps, who fell that clay far 
from the cork-groves of Southern Spain. They tell too how the 
Spanish soldiers who surrendered themselves as prisoners of war 


first cast their arms into the deep pool below. A dreadful story 
has been recorded by an Englishman who lived for many years at 
Inverness. "He had been assured," he writes, "by several 
officers who were in the battle, that some of the English soldiers 
who were dangerously wounded were left behind for three or 
four hours. When parties were sent to them with hurdles made 
to serve as litters, they were all found stabbed with dirks in twenty 
places." ' The story may not be true. If it is, the clansmen were 
as savage after Glen Shiel, as were the regular troops twenty-seven 
years later after Culloden. 

1 Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland, ii. 179. 



In the warm sunshine of a day in June we sat on a bank above 
the dark pool beneath whose eddying waters some of the arms 
perhaps still lie. There was a gentle breeze, the larks were singing 
over our heads, the water was sparkling and splashing, the sides of 
the torrent were overhung with the mountain ash and were green 
with. ferns, but below us and in front lay a scene of wild desolation. 
Far off to the west was the mountain which Boswell had pointed 
out to Johnson as being like a cone. "No, Sir," said Johnson. 

"It would be called so in a book, and when a man comes to look 
at it, he sees it is not so. It is indeed pointed at the top ; but one 
side of it is larger than the other." Its Gaelic name, Faochag, 
which signifies zuhelk, shows that though Johnson's objection may 
have been a proof of his " perceptive quickness," yet Boswell's 
description was quite accurate enough for two men out on a tour. 
We tried in vain to distinguish which among the mountains was "the 
considerable protuberance." Perhaps the Johnson Club may not 
disdain to appoint a committee who shall be instructed to bid fare- 
well for a time to the delights of Fleet Street and visit Glen Shiel, 
with full powers to come to a final decision in this important matter. 


A long' drive down the steep pass brought us to the place which 
Boswell said was "a rich green valley, comparatively speaking." 
A little way beyond it lay the twenty huts which formed the 
village of Auchnasheal. " One of them," says Johnson, " was built 
of loose stones, piled up with great thickness into a strong, though 
not solid wall. From this house we obtained some great pails of 
milk, and having brought bread with us were very liberally regaled." 
The curious scene which they witnessed here is thus described by 
Boswell : 

" We sat down on a green turf-seat at the end of a house ; they brought us out 
two wooden dishes of milk, 1 which we tasted. One of them was frothed like a 
syllabub. I saw a woman preparing it with such a slick as is used for chocolate, 
and in the same manner. We had a considerable circle about us, men, women, 
and children, all M'Craas, Lord Seaforth's people. Not one of them could speak 
English. I observed to Dr. Johnson, it was much the same as being with a tribe 
of Indians. Johnson : ' Yes, sir, but not so terrifying.' I gave all who chose it 
snuff and tobacco. Governor Trapaud had made us buy a quantity at Fort 
Augustus, and put them up in small parcels. I also gave each person a piece of 
wheat bread, which they had never tasted before. 1 then gave a penny apiece to 
each child. I told Dr. Johnson of this : upon which he called to Joseph and our 
guides, for change for a shilling, and declared that he would distribute among the 
children. Upon this being announced in Erse, there was a great stir : not only did 
some children come running down from neighbouring huts, but I observed one 
black-haired man, who had been with us all along, had gone off, and returned, 
bringing a very young child. My fellow-traveller then ordered the children to be 
drawn up in a row, and he dealt about his copper, and made them and their 
parents all happy." 

"It was the best clay the McCraas declared they had seen since 
the time of the old laird of Macleod." He, no doubt, had made a 
halt in their valley on his way to or from Skye. The snuff and 
tobacco must have won their hearts more even than the money. 
"Nothing," Johnson was told, "gratified the Highlanders so 
much." Knox recorded a few years later that "any stranger who 
cannot take a pinch of snuff or give one is looked upon with an 
evil eye."' So uncommon was wheaten bread even a quarter of a 
century later, that Dr. Garnett, after leaving Inverary, tasted none 
till he reached Inverness. 3 At present it can be had in most places, 
being brought by the steamers in large boxes from Glasgow, and 
transported inland in the country carts. The way in which the 
villagers had gathered round the travellers had startled even 

1 Johnson calls them fails. In his time pails 2 J. Knox's Tour through the Higltlands in 

were only made of wood, if we can trust his de- 1786, p. 255. 
finition of the word in his Dictionary. 3 T. Game-It's Observations, &c., ii. 12. 



Johnson, stoiit-heajted though he was. " I believe," he says, 
" they were without any evil intention, but they had a very savage 
wiklness of aspect and manner." My friend, the minister of Glen 
Shiel, pointed out to me that it was no doubt mere curiosity which 
brought them round him. Johnson was as strange a sight to them 
as they were to Johnson. An earlier traveller in the Hebrides 
has expressed this very well. " livery man and thing 'I met with," 
he writes, " seemed a novelty. 1 thought myself entering upon a 
new scene of nature, but nature rough and unpolished. Men, 
manners, habits, buildings, everything different from our own ; and 
if we thought them rude and barbarous, no doubt the people had 
the same opinion of what belonged to us, and the wonder was 
mutual." ' 

Auchnasheal has been swept away ; nothing of it is left but a 
few banks of earth and the foundations of the one stone house. 
The same fate has befallen it which befell that other village near 
Fort Augustus where Coleridge heard a Highland widow mourn 
over the desolation of the land : 

" ' Within this space,' she said, ' how short a time back ! there lived a hundred 
and seventy-three persons, and now there is only a shepherd and an underling or 
two. Yes, Sir ! One hundred and seventy-three Christian souls, man, woman, boy, 
girl, and babe, and in almost every home an old man by the fire-side, who would 
tell you of the troubles before our roads were made; and many a brave youth 
among them who loved the birthplace of his forefathers, yet would swing about his 
broad-sword, and want but a word to march off to the battles over sea ; aye, Sir, 
and many a good lass who had a respect for herself. Well, but they are gone, and 
with them the bristled bear [barley] and the pink haver [oats], and the potato plot 
that looked as gay as any flower-garden with its blossoms ! I sometimes fancy that 
the very birds are gone all but the crows and the gleads [kites]. Well, and what 
then ? Instead of us all, there is one shepherd man, and it may be a pair of small 
lads and a many, many sheep ! And do you think, Sir, that God allows of such 

The desolation had already begun even at the time of our travellers' 
visit. Their host of the evening before was following seventy of 
the dalesmen to America, whither they had been driven by a 
rack-renting landlord. " I asked, him," writes Johnson, " whether 
they would stay at home if they were well-treated. He answered 
with indignation, that no man willingly left his native country." 

Taking leave of these inoffensive, if wild-looking people, our 
travellers rode on, much refreshed by their repast. They had, as 
Johnson complained, " very little entertainment, as they travelled 

1 W. Sacheverell's Account of the Isle of Man, &v., p. 128. Lay Simian, eel. 1870, p. 427. 


either for the eye or ear. There are, I fancy,"' he adds, "no sing- 
ing birds in. the Highlands." It is odd that he should have looked 
for singing-birds on the ist of September. Had it been earlier in 
the summer he would have found melody enough. Nowhere have 
I heard the thrushes sing more sweetly than at Glenelg. Wesley, 
visiting Inverness on an early day of May, "heard abundance of 
birds welcoming the return of spring." If so late in the summer 
there was no music for the ear, the eye surely should have been 
something more than entertained, when in the evening light the 
first sight was caught of Loch Duich and the waters of the Atlantic, 
and the barrier of mountains which so nobly encloses them. Yet 
they are passed over in silence by both our travellers. So fine is 
the scenery here that I longed to make a stay in the comfortable 
inn at Shiel, near the head of the loch. Hut we were forced to 
press on, having first witnessed, however, sheep-shearing on a large 
scale on a farm close by. In front of a storing-house for wool 
fifteen men were seated all hard at work with their shears, their 
dogs lying at their feet. They wore coloured jerseys in which the 
shades of blue and green were all the pleasanter to the eye because 
they were somewhat faded. Young lads were bringing up the 
sheep from the fold. The forelegs of each animal were tied, it was 
then lifted on to a narrow bank of turf which had been raised in 
front of each shepherd, thrown on its back, and in a moment the 
busy shears were at work. In the long summer day a quick hand 
could finish eighty, we were told. As soon as the fleece fell loose, 
an old woman came forward, folded it up tight, and carried it into 
the store-house ; while a boy, dipping the branding-iron into boiling 
pitch, scored the side of each sheep with a deep black mark. From 
time to time the farmer went round with a bottle and a small glass, 
and gave each man a dram of pure whisky. Not far from here on 
the banks of the loch was an old house where it was said that 
Johnson made a halt. It is so pleasant a place, with its grove of 
trees and its garden of roses, and so kindly was I welcomed, that I 
would willingly believe the tradition. I could wish, however, that 
he and Boswell had not treated it with the same neglect as they 
did the view. Had their reception been as kind as mine they 
would certainly have expressed their gratitude. It was here 
that I was told of the address which he made to the mountain at 
the foot of which the house stands, and up which he was now to 

1 Wesley's foiti-nal, iv. 275. 


climb, " Good-bye, Mam Rattakin, I hope never to see your face 
again." ' They did not reach it till late in the afternoon. Both 
Johnson and the horses were weary, and they had "a terrible steep 
to climb." Going down was almost worse than going up, for his 
horse now and then stumbled beneath his great weight. On the 
edge of one of the precipices he was, he thought, in real danger. 
He grew fretful with fatigue, and was not comforted by the absurd 
attempt made by his guide to amuse him. 

" Having heard him, in the forenoon, express a pastoral pleasure on seeing the 
goats browsing, just when the doctor was uttering his displeasure, the fellow cried, 
with a very Highland accent, 'See, such pretty goats !' Then he whistled u>hu ! 
and made them jump. Little did he conceive what Dr. Johnson was. Here now 
was a common ignorant Highland clown imagining that he could divert, as one does 
a child, Dr. Samuel Johnson I The ludicrousncss, absurdity, and extraordinary con- 
trast between what the fellow fancied, and the reality, was truly comic." 

At the bottom of the mountain a dreary ride of six or seven 
long miles through a flat and uninteresting country still awaited 
them. They were too tired even for talk. Boswell urged on his 
horse so that some preparation might be made for the great man 
at the inn at Glenelg. 

" He called me back," he writes, " with a tremendous shout, and was really in a 
passion with me for leaving him. I told him my intentions, but he was not satisfied, 
and said, ' I >o you know, I should as soon have thought of picking a pocket, as doing 
so.' lioswKi.i,. 'I am diverted with you, Sir.' JOHNSON. 'Sir, I could never be 
diverted with incivility. Doing such a thing makes one lose confidence in him who 
has done it, as one cannot tell what he may do next.' " 

Even after he had reached the inn his violence continued. " Sir," 
he said, " had you gone on, I was thinking that I should have 
returned with you to Edinburgh, and then have parted from you, 
and never spoken to you more." The next morning " he owned 
that he had spoken in passion ; that he would not have done what 
he threatened ; and that if he had, he should have been ten times 
worse than I ; and he added, ' Let's think no more on't.' " As we 
drove down the mountain on a summer afternoon the peacefulness 
of the pastoral scene, the sheep dotted about quietly nibbling the 
grass, with their lambs by their side, the hazy air on the hills, all 
seemed to contrast strangely with the violence of his passion. To 
an old man, however, tired with a long clay's ride over rough ways, 
and in want of his dinner, something must be forgiven. He is not 

1 See ante, p. 2. Boswell calls the mountain Rattakin, Johnson Ratiken. Its name I was told 
is properly written Rattagun. 



the only tourist who, in his need of rest and food, has relieved his 
feelings by quarrelling with his companion. 

When they were not far from the end of their ride they passed 
the barracks at Bernera. " I looked at them wistfully," writes 
Boswell ; "as soldiers have always everything in the best order ; 
but there was only a sergeant and a few men there." Pennant, 
who had visited them a year earlier, describes them as " handsome 
and capacious, designed to hold two hundred men ; at present 
occupied only by a corporal and six soldiers. The country lament 
this neglect. They arc now quite sensible of the good effects of 
the military, by introducing peace and security ; they fear lest the 
evil days should return, and the ancient thefts be renewed as soon 
as the banditti find this protection of the people removed." The 
banditti were the Highlanders of this district in general. Less than 
thirty years earlier " the whole country between Loch Ness and 
the sea to the west had been," he says, " a den of thieves. The 
constant petition at grace of the old Highland chieftains was 
delivered with great fervour in these terms: ' Lord, turn the world 
upside down, that Christians may make bread out of it.' " 

The country had to lament a loss of trade as well as of security. 
The cottagers who had been drawn together to supply the wants 
of the soldiers are described by Knox, a few years later, as being 
in the utmost poverty. The barracks had fallen into so ruinous a 
state, that it justified the report that the building of them had been 
" a notorious job." Even the sergeant and his six soldiers had 
been removed. " I was entertained," says Knox, " by the com- 
manding officer and his whole garrison. The former was an old 
corporal, and the latter was the corporal's wife : the entertainment 
snuff and whisky. " : 

When at length our travellers, " weary and disgusted," reached 
Glenelg, " our humour," writes Johnson, " was not much mended 
by our inn, which, though it was built of lime and slate, the High- 
lander's description of a house which he thinks magnificent, had 
neither wine, bread, eggs, nor anything that we could eat or drink. 
When we were taken upstairs a dirty fellow bounced out of the bed 
where one of us was to lie. Boswell blustered, but nothing could 
be got. At last a gentleman in the neighbourhood, who heard of 

1 Voyage to the Hebrides, eel. 1774, p. 336. cxx, 103. I do not know whether an earlier in- 

2 Ib. , p. 345. stance can be found of the expression "notorious 

3 Tour through Hit Highlands in 1786, pp. job " than the above. 

1 66 


our arrival, sent us rum and white sugar. Boswell was now pro- 
vided fur in part, aiul the landlord prepared some mutton chops 
which we could not eat, and killed two hens, of which Uoswell 
made his servant broil a limb, with what effect I know not. We 
had a lemon and a piece of bread, which supplied me with my 
supper." Boswell's account of the place is no less dismal. " There 
was no provender for our horses ; so they were sent to grass with 
a man to watch them. A maid showed us upstairs into a room 
damp and dirty, with bare walls, a variety of bad smells, a coarse 
black greasy fir table, and forms of the same kind ; and out of a 


wretched bed started a fellow from his sleep, like Edgar in King 
Lear, ' Poor Tom's a cold.' ' Johnsdn slept in his clothes and great 
coat, on a bed of hay ; " Boswell laid sheets upon his bed which he 
had brought from home, and reposed in linen like a gentleman." 

Here, again, was I struck by the contrast between the past and 
the present. Of the old inn, with all its magnificence of lime and 
slate, not even the site is known. In its place stands a roomy and 
comfortable hotel. It was on the 2ist of June when we visited 











it, and we found it halt-asleep and almost empty, for the season 
had not yet begun. At the most delightful time of the year, when 
the days were at their longest and no candles were burnt, there was 
scarcely a single stranger to enjoy the quiet and the beauty. There 
were woods and flowering shrubs, rhododendrons and the Portugal 
laurel, and close to the water's edge the laburnum in full bloom. 
There were all the sights of peaceful country life the cocks crow- 
ing, the sheep answering with their bleats their bleating lambs, the 
cows with their calves in the noonday heat seeking the shade of 
the tall and wide-spreading trees. The waves lapped gently on 
the shore, and in the distance, below the rocky coast of Skye, the 
waters were whitened by the countless sea-birds. We drove up a 
beautiful valley to the 1'ictish forts, and saw an eagle hovering high 
above us. 



On the morning of Thursday, September 2, our travellers took 
boat at Glenelg, " and launched into one of the straits of the 
Atlantic Ocean." Rowing 
along the Sound ol Slate to- 
wards the south-west, they 
reached the shore of Armi- 
dale in Skye early in the 
afternoon. They had in- 
tended to visit in his castle 
the owner of half the island, 

Sir Alexander Macdonald. But, wrote Johnson, " he had come 
from his seat in the middle of the island to a small house on 
the shore, as we believe, that he might with less reproach enter- 
tain us meanly." Boswell was so much disgusted with this 
chieftain's parsimony, that he "meditated an escape from his house 
the very next day ; but Dr. Johnson resolved that we should 
weather it out till Monday." When the day of escape at length 
came, they started on horseback in a north-westerly direction for 
Corrichatachin, a farm-house near Broadford, 1 belonging to Sir A. 
Macdonald, but tenanted by a Mackinnon, a clan to which all this 
district had formerly belonged. " Here they were entertained 
better than at the landlord's ; " here " they enjoyed the comfort of a 

1 Boswcll calls the place Broadfoot. 


table plentifully furnished, and here for the first time they had a 
specimen of the joyous social manners of the inhabitants of the 
Highlands." Hooks, too, were not wanting, both Latin and English ; 
among them was a co^y of the abridgment of Johnson's Dictionary. 
He might have said here, as four years later with some eagerness 
he said at Lord Scarsdale's, when he discovered the same book in 
his lordship's dressing-room, " Qua; regio in terris nostri non plena 
laboris?" Here, too, he wrote that Latin Ode to Mrs. Thrale, 
which so cauirht Sir Walter Scott's imagination, that when he first 

C5 <-> 

set foot on Skye, it was the thing which first came into his 
thoughts. And here on their return after a lapse of nearly three 
weeks, Boswell got so tipsy and so piously penitent next day. He 
had not gone to bed till nearly five o'clock on a Sunday morning, 
by which time four bowls of punch had been finished. 

" I awaked at noon," he records, " with a severe headache. I was much vexed 
that I should have been guilty of such a riot, and afraid of a reproof from Dr. 
Johnson. I thought it very inconsistent with that conduct which I ought to 
maintain, while the companion of the Rambler. About one he came into my room, 
and accosted me, ' What, drunk yet ? ' His tone of voice was not that of severe 
upbraiding; so I was relieved a little. 'Sir,' said I, 'they kept me up.' He 
answered, ' No, you kept them up, you drunken dog.' This he said with good- 
humoured English pleasantry. Soon afterwards, Corrichatachin, Col, and other 
friends, assembled round my bed. Corri had a brandy-bottle and glass with him, 
and insisted I should take a dram. 'Ay,' said Dr. Johnson, 'fill him drunk 
again. Do it in the morning, that we may laugh at him all day. It is a poor thing 
for a fellow to get drunk at night, and sculk to bed, and let his friends have no 
sport.' Finding him thus jocular, I became quite easy ; and when I offered to get 
up, he very good-naturedly said, 'You need be in no such hurry now.' I took my 
host's advice, and drank some brandy, which I found an effectual cure for my head- 
ache. When I rose, I went into Dr. Johnson's room, and taking up Mrs. M'Kinnon's 
Prayer-book, I opened it at the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, in the epistle for 
which I read, ' And be not drunk with wine, wherein there is excess.' Some 
would have taken this as a divine interposition." 

Before the afternoon was over, by the help of good cheer and 
good society, he felt himself comfortable enough, and his piety was 
drowned in philosophy. 

" I then thought," he says, " that my hist night's riot was no more tlum such a 
social excess as may happen without much moral blame ; and recollected that some 
physicians maintained, that a fever produced by it was, upon the whole, good for 

The Highlanders were more seasoned drinkers than he was, for 
the following night they had another drinking-bout. 

"They kept a smart lad lying on a table in the corner of the room, ready to 
spring up and bring the kettle whenever it was wanted. They continued drinking, 



and singing Erse songs, till near five in the morning, when they all came into my 
room, where some of them had beds. Unluckily lor me, they found a bottle of 
punch in a corner, which they drank ; and Corrichatachin went for another, which 
they also drank. They made many apologies for disturbing me. I told them, 
that, having been kept awake by their mirth, I had once thoughts of getting up and 
joining them again Honest Corrichatachin said, 'To have had you done so, I 

Johnson was better lodged than Bosvvell, for he had a room to 
himself at night, though in the day it was the place where the 
servants took their rrteals. Yet he was pleased with the kindness 
shown him, and discovered no deficiencies. " Our entertainment," 
he wrote, " was not only hospitable but elegant." The company 
he describes as being " more numerous and elegant than it could 
have been supposed easy to collect." He gave as much pleasure 
as he received, and when he left, " the Scottish phrase of honest 
man, which is an expression of kindness and regard, was again and 
again applied to him." 

The house he describes as " very pleasantly situated between 
two brooks, with one of the highest hills of the island behind it." 
Boswell with good reason remarks on the entire absence of a 
garden. " Corrichatachin," he writes, " has not even a turnip, a 
carrot, or a cabbage." Where these were wanting, there would be 
no roses clustering on the porch, no flower-beds before the door. 
This scene of hospitality and jovial riot is now a ruin. We 
walked to it from Broadford across a moorland, the curlews flying 
round us with their melancholy cry. The two brooks were 
shrunk with the long drought, and flowed in very quiet streams. 
Yet one of them, I was told, in a time of flood once broke into 
Mackinnon's house. We crossed it on a bridge formed of two 
trees, with a long piece of iron wire for a railing. There we rested 
awhile, now looking clown at the sunlight dancing in the shallows, 
and now gazing at the ruined farm and the mountain rising behind 
in steep crags of barren rock. Far up the valley to the west a 
flock of sheep was coming white from the shearing, bleating as 
they spread out along the hill-side. Another flock the dogs were 
gathering into what had been the yard of the old house. It had 
been solidly built, two stories high, about thirty-six feet long by 
fifteen broad in the inside measurements. On the outside, over the 
door, was carved : 

L. M. K. J. M. K. 





Johnson's host was Lachlan Mackinnon, and the initials are, I 
suppose, his and his wife's. It was but a small place to hold the 
large and festive company that was gathered at the time of our 
traveller's visit ; but, as Boswell says, " it was partly done by 
separating man and wife, and putting a number of men in one room 
and of women in another." As I looked up at the windows which 
still remain, though the floors have fallen in, I wondered which was 
the room which was Johnson's chamber at night, and the ladies' 
parlour by day, where Boswell sat among them writing his journal. 
At the Hotel at Broadford, I was struck by the change that has 
come about since Johnson's time " in this verge of European life," 
to use the term which he applied to Skye. Corrichatachin remains 
almost as he saw it. A house had fallen in ruins and had been 
replaced by another, and a small grove of trees had been planted. 
A garden had been made, and patches of ground which once were 
pasture had been ploughed up. But the broad face of nature is 
unchanged. This " region of obscurity," is, however, obscure no 
longer. Where he was nearly ten weeks without receiving letters, 
now even the poor, far from their homes, by means of the tele- 
graphic wire can, as it were, "live along the line." A maid-servant 
who goes to distant services, on her arrival, by means of a 
telegram, at once frees her mother from her "heart-struck anxious 
care." The owner of the hotel, from whom I learnt this fact, said 
that " Rowland Hill had done more for the poor man than all the 
ministers since, and that many of the Highlanders in gratitude had 
called their sons after him." 




From Corrichatachin our travellers rode down to the sea-side 
at Broadford, two miles off, where they took boat for the island of 
Raasay. The Macgillichallum, or laird of Raasay, John Macleod, 
had politely sent his coach and six, as he called his six-oared boat, 
to fetch them over. Though it was " thus dignified with a pompous 
name," writes Johnson, " there was no seat, but an occasional bundle 
of straw. I never," he acids, " saw in the Hebrides a boat furnished 
with benches." In it had come the learned Donald M'Oueen, a 
minister, and old Malcolm Macleod, who had been out in the '45, 
and had aided the Young Pretender in his escape. I had at one 
time thought that it was to him that Johnson alludes, when he 
speaks of having met one man, and one only, who defied the law 
against wearing the Highland dress. " By him," he adds, "it was 
worn only occasionally and wantonly." I now believe, however, 
that it was Macdonald of Kingsburgh who was meant. Ever 
since the last rebellion the national garb had been suppressed. It 
had been enacted that " no person whatsoever should wear or put 
on those parts of the Highland clothes, garb, or habiliments which 
are called the plaid, philibeg, 2 or little kilt, or any of them." Any 
offender " not being a landed man, or the son of a landed man " 
shall be tried before a justice of the peace "in a summary way, and 
shall be delivered over to serve as as a soldier." 1 Even the loyal 
Highlanders in the Duke of Cumberland's army had been com- 
pelled in part to adopt the southern garb. " Near Linlithgow," 
writes Henderson, " the whole army passed in review before their 
illustrious General. When the Highlanders passed he seemed 
much delighted with their appearance, saying, ' They look very 
well ; have breeches, and are the better for that." 4 Some years later 
when Pitt " called for soldiers from the mountains of the North," 
"to allure them into the army it was thought proper to indulge 
them in the continuance of their national dress." s Numerous were 
the devices to evade the law, and great must have been the per- 
plexities of the magistrates. One of Wolfe's officers wrote in 1/52, 

1 Johnson's Works, ix. 47. the 19 Get. //., made in //if 21 Geo, II, Edin- 

2 The philibeg, or fillibeg, is defined as "the burgh, 174!*, p. 15. 

dress or petticoat reaching nearly to the knees." 4 Henderson's History of I lie Kebellion, p. 99. 

3 An Act to AnictiJ t/u- Disarming Act of * Johnson's Works, ix. 94. 


that "one of his Serjeants luul taken a fellow wearing a blanket in 
form of a philibeg. He carried him to Perth, but the Sheriff-sub- 
stitute did not commit him, because the blanket was not a tartan. 
On his return he met another of the same kind ; so, as he found it 
needless to carry him before a magistrate, he took the blanket- 
philibeg and cut it to pieces." Another officer wrote two months 
later : " One of my men brought me a man to all appearance in a 
philibeg ; but on close examination I found it to be a woman's 
petticoat, which answers every end of that part of the Highland 
dress. I sent him to the Sheriff-substitute, who dismissed him." 

Smollett, in his Humphry Clinker, pleads the cause of the 
dejected Highlanders, who had not only been deprived of their 
ancient garb, but, " what is a greater hardship still, are compelled 
to wear breeches, a restraint which they cannot bear with any 
degree of patience ; indeed the majority wear them, not in the 
proper place, but on poles or long staves over their shoulders." 
In 1782 the Marquis of Graham brought in a bill to repeal this 
prohibitory Act. One of the English members asked that if it 
became law, the dress should still be prohibited in England. When 
six Highland soldiers had been quartered at a house in Hampshire, 
" the singularity of their dress," he said, " so much attracted the 
eyes of the wife and daughters of the man of the house that he found 
it expedient to take a lodging for them at another place. " : A Low- 
land friend tells me that one day at church her grandfather turned 
two Highland officers out of his pew, as he thought their dress im- 
proper where there were ladies. This she learnt from her aunt 
who had been present. Old Malcolm Macleod, if he did not 
return altogether to the ancient dress, nevertheless broke the law. 
" He wore a pair of brogues ; tartan hose which came up only near 
to his knees, and left them bare ; a purple camblet kilt ; a black 
waistcoat ; a short green cloth coat bound with gold cord ; a yel- 
lowish bushy wig ; a large blue bonnet with a gold thread button." 
Sir Walter Scott tells us that " to evade the law against the 
tartan dress, the Highlanders used to dye their variegated plaids 
and kilts into blue, green, or any single colour."' 1 Malcolm had 
done this with his kilt, but in his hose he asserted his inde- 
pendence. Yet so early as the beginning of last century, according 
to Martin, the Highland dress was fast dying out in Skye. " They 

1 Wright's Life of Wolfe, pp. 216-18. 3 Gentleman's Magazine, 1782, p. 307. 

" Humphry Clinker, iii. 20. 4 Croker's Boswell, p. 316. 


now," he writes, " generally use coat, waistcoat, and breeches, as 
elsewhere. Persons of distinction wear the garb in fashion in the 
south of Scotland." ' 

While Johnson in the voyage to Raasay "sat high on the stern 
of the boat like a magnificent Triton," old Malcolm, no less magni- 
ficent through his attire, took his turn at tugging the oar, " singing 
an Erse song, the chorus ot which was Haty in foam foam eri, with 
words of his own." The original was written in praise of Allan of 
Muidart, a chief of the Clanranald family. The following is a trans- 
lation of the complete chorus : 

" Along, along, then haste along, 

For here no more I'll stay ; 
I'll braid and bind my tresses long, 

And o'er the hills away."" 

In the sound between Scalpa and Raasay, "the wind," writes 
Boswell, " made the sea very rough. I did not like it. ' This now,' 
said Johnson, 'is the Atlantic. If I should tell, at a tea-table in 
London, that I have crossed the Atlantic in an open boat, how 
they'd shudder, and what a fool they'd think me to expose myself 
to such clanger.'" In his letter to Mrs. Thrale he makes light of 
the roughness of the waves. " The wind blew enough to give the 
boat a kind of dancing agitation." Fora moment or two his temper 
was ruffled, for by the carelessness of their man-servant his spurs 
were carried overboard. " There was something wild," he said, 
" in letting a pair of spurs be carried into the sea out of a boat." 
What a fine opening we have here for the enthusiasm of the John- 
son Club ! An expedition properly equipped should be sent to 
dredge in this sound for the spurs, with directions to proceed after- 
wards to the Isle of Mull, and make search for that famous piece 
of timber, his walking-stick, which was lost there. 

As the boat drew near the land the singing of the reapers on 
shore was mingled with the song of the rowers. It was frequently 
noticed by travellers how the Highlanders loved to keep time with 
their songs to whatever they were doing. Gray heard the masons 
singing in Erse all day long as they were building the park wall at 
Glamis Castle. 3 An earlier writer tells how " the women in harvest 
work keep time by several barbarous tones of the voice ; and stoop 
and rise together as regularly as a rank of soldiers when they 

' Martin's Description of the Western Islands, pp. 206-7. 
2 Croker's Boswell, p. 364. 3 Gray's Works, iv. 55. 


ground their arms. They proceed with great alacrity, it being 
disgraceful for anyone to be out ot time: with the sickle " ' Accord- 
ing to Pennant, " in the songs of the rowers the notes are commonly 
long, the airs solemn and slow, rarely cheerful, it being impossible 
for the oars to keep a quick time ; the words generally have a re- 
ligious turn, consonant to that of the people." 1 Ramsay of Ochter- 
tyre says that " the women's songs are in general very short and 
plaintive. In travelling through the remote Highlands in harvest, 
the sound of these little bands on every side has a most pleasing 
effect on the mind of a stranger." The custom, we learn from him, 
was rapidly dying out at the end of last century/ 1 I did not myself 
hear any of this singing in my wanderings ; but a Scotch friend 
tells me that more than forty years ago she remembers seeing a 
field in which thirty Highland reapers were at work in couples, a 
man and a woman together, all singing their Gaelic songs. 

Three or four hours' stout rowing brought the boat to the shore 
below the Laird of Raasay's house. " The approach to it," says 
Boswell, " was very pleasing. We saw before us a beautiful bay, well 
defended by a rocky coast ; a good family mansion ; a fine verdure 
about it, with a considerable number of trees ; and beyond it hills and 
mountains in gradation of wilclness." At the entrance to the bay is a 
rocky islet, where we landed, when we visited Raasay on the after- 
noon of a bright June clay. As it was unoccupied, we took formal 
possession, with a better claim than the European nations have to the 
well-peopled islands of the Southern Seas. Its name, we learnt 
from our boatman, was Goat Island, and just as Johnson was 
addressed as Island Isa, so we were willing to derive our title from 
our new acquisition. We passed a full half an hour in our domain 
with great satisfaction. Who, we asked, " would change the rocks 
of Scotland for the Strand ? " The waves beat on our coast, break- 
ing in white crests far away in the open sound. We looked across 
the little bay on the sunny shore of our nearest neighbour, the 
Laird of Raasay, and did not envy him the pleasant grassy slope, 
almost ready for the scythe, which stretched from his mansion to the 
edge of the sea, or the fine woods which covered the hills at the 
back of his house. We thought how much the scene is changed 
since our travellers saw it. Then there was no landing-place ; 

1 Letters from a Gentleman in the North oj ]< Scotland and Scotsmen in tin Eighteenth 

Scotland, ii. 142. Century, ii. 410, 415. 

- Voyage to the Hebrides, ed. 1774, p. 291. 



steps had not been even cut in the natural rock. " The crags," 
Johnson complained, " were irregularly broken, and a false step 
would have been very mischievous." Yet " a few men with pick- 
axes might have cut an ascent of stairs out of any part of the rock 
in a week's time." There is now a small stone pier. The hayfield, 
in the memory of people still living, was all heathland down to the 
water's edge, with a rough cart-track running across it. Trees have 
been everywhere planted, and the hill-sides are beautifully wooded. 
Even before Johnson's time something had been done in the way 

of improvement. Martin, in his Description of the Western Isles, 1 
mentions " an orchard with several sorts of berries, pot-herbs, &c." 
In the copy of Martin's work in the Bodleian Library, Toland has 
entered in the margin : " Wonderful in Scotland anywhere." Bos- 
well mentions " a good garden, plentifully stocked with vegetables, 
and strawberries, raspberries, currants, &c." The house that 
"neat modern fabric," which Johnson praises as "the seat of plenty, 
civility, and cheerfulness " still remains, but it is almost hidden 
beneath the great additions which have in later years been made. 
In a letter to Mrs. Thrale, he says : " It is not large, though we 

1 Page 164. 


were told in our passage that it had eleven fine rooms, nor magni- 
ficently furnished, hut our utensils ' were most commonly silver. 
We went up into a dining room about as large as your blue room, 
where we had something given us to eat, and tea and coffee." The 
blue room, less fortunate than its rival at Raasay, has been swept 
away, with all the beauty and the associations of Streatham Park. 
I was shown his chamber, with his portrait hanging on the wall. A 
walking-stick which he had used is treasured up. From his 
windows he looked down into the garden. However productive it 
may have been, it was not, I fear, so gay with flowers as it was 
when I saw it, or so rich in shrubs. I walked between fuchsia 
hedges that were much higher than my head. One fuchsia bush, 
or rather tree, which stood apart, covered with its branches a round 
of sixty feet. Its trunk was as thick as a man's thigh. The 
Western Islands are kept free from severe frosts by the waters of 
the Gulf Stream, so that in the spots which face the southern suns, 
and are sheltered from the north and east, there is a growth which 
rivals, and perhaps outdoes, that of Devonshire and Cornwall. 

Not far from the house is the ruined chapel which provoked 
Johnson's sarcasm. "It has been," he writes, "for many years 
popular to talk of the lazy devotion of the Romish clergy; over the 
sleepy laziness of men that erected churches we may indulge our 
superiority with a new triumph, by comparing it with the fervid 
activity of those who suffer them to fall." Boswell took a more 
cheerful view. " There was something comfortable," he wrote, " in 
the thought of being so near a piece of consecrated ground." Here 
they looked upon the tombs of the Macleods of Raasay, that 
ancient family which boasted that " during four hundred years they 
had not gained or lost a single acre;" which was worthily repre- 
sented in their host ; which lasted for two generations longer, and 
then sank in ruins amidst the wild follies of a single laird. Whilst 
rack-renting landlords were driving their people across the wide 
Atlantic, Macleod of Raasay could boast " that his island had not 
yet been forsaken by a single inhabitant." Pleased with all he saw, 
" Johnson was in fine spirits. ' This,' he said, ' is truly the 
patriarchal life ; this is what we came to find.' " He was delighted 
with the free and friendly life, the feasting and the dancing, and all 

' Johnson seems to use this word in much the Hebrides " they use silver on all occasions where 

same sense as Caliban does when he speaks of it is common in England, nor did I ever find a 

Prosperous "brave utensils" (The Tempest, act spoon of horn but in one house." 
iii. sc. 2). In his fourney, he says that in the 


" the pleasures of this little Court." The evening of their arrival, 
as soon as dinner was finished, " the carpet was taken up, the fiddler 
of the family came, and a very vigorous and general dance was 
begun." According to Boswell, "Johnson was so delighted with 
this scene, that he said, ' I know not how we shall get away.' It 
entertained me to observe him sitting by, while we danced, some- 
times in deep meditation, sometimes smiling complacently, some- 
times looking upon Hooke's Rotnan Hislory,'A.\\<\ sometimes talking 
a little, amidst the noise of the ball, to Mr. Donald M'Oueen, who 
anxiously gathered knowledge from him." The same accommo- 
dating hospitality was shown here as at Corrichatachin in finding 
sleeping room for the large party that was assembled. "I had a 
chamber to myself," writes Johnson, " which in eleven rooms to 
forty people was more than my share. How the company and the 
family were distributed is not easy to tell. Macleod, the chieftain 
of Dunvegan, and Boswell and I had all single chambers on the 
first floor. There remained eight rooms only for at least seven-and- 
thirty lodgers. I suppose they put up temporary beds in the 
dining-room, where they stowed all the young ladies. There was 
a room above stairs with six beds, in which they put ten men." 
The patriarchal life was so complete that in this island, with a popu- 
lation estimated at nine hundred, 1 there was neither justice of the 
peace nor constable. Even in Skye there wo.s but one magistrate, 
and, so late as forty years ago, but one policeman. Raasay is still 
without a justice. The people, I was told, settle all their disputes 
among themselves, and keep clear of crime. Much of the land is 
still held on the old tribal system. " I have ascertained," writes Sir 
Henry Maine, " that the families which formed the village com- 
munities only just extinct in the Western Highlands had the lands 
of the village re-distributed among them by lot at fixed intervals of 
time."' In Raasay there are little plots of land which every year 
are still distributed by lot. So small are they, and so close together 
that it often happens that five or six families are all at the same 
time getting in their harvest on a strip not much larger than a 
couple of lawn tennis grounds. 

Boswell with three Highland gentlemen spent one day in 
exploring the island, and in climbing to the top of Dun Can, or 

1 This was Johnson's estimate, based on the '' Lectures an the Early History of InstUu- 

number of men who took part in the Rebellion tin/is, eel. 1875, p. 101. 
of 1745. The population in 1881 was 750. 

A A 

i 7 8 


Raasay's Cap, as sailors called the mountain, to whom far away at 
sea it was a conspicuous landmark. On the top they danced a 
Highland reel. If we may trust the statement of a young English 
tourist, the dance was just as enjoyable, though there were no 
ladies for partners. " The Scotch," he writes, " admire the reel for 
its own merit alone. A Scotchman comes into an assembly room 
as he would into a field of exercise, dances till he is literally tired, 
possibly without ever looking at his partner. In most countries the 
men have a partiality for dancing with a woman : but here I have 
frequently seen four gentlemen perform one of these reels seemingly 

with the same pleasure as if they had had the most sprightly 
girl for a partner. They give you the idea that they could with 
equal glee cast off round a joint-stool or set to a corner cupboard." ' 
Beyond Dun Can to the north-west the travellers visited the 
ruins of the old castle, once the residence of the lairds of Raasay. 
On their return from their walk of four-and-twenty miles over very 
rugged ground, "we piqued ourselves," Boswell writes, "at not 
being outdone at the nightly ball by our less active friends, who 
had remained at home." 

Of the ancient crosses which he mentions I fear but one is 

1 E. Topham's Litters front Edinburgh, p. 264. 


remaining. Martin, who looked upon them as pyramids to the 
deceased ladies of the family, found eight. Malcolm Macleod 
thought that they were "false sentinels a common deception to 
make invaders imagine an island be:ter guarded." The learned 
M 'Queen maintained that they " marked the boundaries of the 
sacred territory within which an asylum was to be had." In this 
opinion Boswell concurred. 

Delightful as the mansion at Raasay seemed to the travellers, 
with " the rough ocean and the rocky land, the beating billows and 
the howling storm without, while within was plenty and elegance, 
beauty and gaiety, the song and the dance," yet it had seen another 
sight only seven-and-twenty years earlier. In the island the Young 
Pretender " in his distress was hidden for two nights, and the 
king's troops burnt the whole country, and killed some of the 
cattle. You may guess," continues Johnson, " at the opinions that 
prevail in this country ; they are, however, content with fighting for 
their king; they do not drink for him. We had no foolish healths." 
Pleased as our travellers were with their four days' residence here, 
in the midst of storms and rain, how much would their pleasure 
have been increased could they have seen it as I saw it in the bright 
summer weather ! No one who visited it then would have said 
with Johnson that " it has little that can detain a traveller, except 
the laird and his family." It has almost everything that Nature 
can give in the delightful ness of scenery and situation. 1 Like 
Boswell, as I gazed upon it, I might " for a moment have doubted 
whether unhappiness had any place in Raasay ; " but, like him, I 
might "soon have had the delusion dispelled," by recalling John- 
son's lines : 

" Yet hope not life from grief or danger free, 
Nor think the doom of man reversed for thee." 


Much as Johnson had delighted in the patriarchal life at 
Raasay, yet after four days' stay he became impatient to move. 
"There was," writes Boswell, "so numerous a company, mostly 
young people, there was such a flow of familiar talk, so much noise, 

1 I am much indebted to Mr. A. E. Stewart, ever there was to see, and lor his present o( the 
of Raasay, for his kindness in showing me what- photograph of the old castle. 



and so much singing and dancing, that little opportunity was left 
for his energetic conversation. He seemed sensible of this; for 
when I told him how happy they were at having him there, he said, 
' Yet we have not been able to entertain them much.' " The 
weather, which had been very wet and stormy, cleared up on the 
morning of September 12. " Though it was Sunday," says John- 
son, " we thought it proper to snatch the opportunity of a calm 
clay." A row of some five or six miles brought them to Portree in 
Skye, a harbour whose name commemorated the visit of King 
James V. The busy little town on the top of the cliff, with its 


Court House, hotels, banks, and shops, which has grown up at the 
end of the land-locked harbour, did not then exist. Sir James 
Macdonald, " the Marcellus of Scotland," as Boswell called him, 
had intended to build a village there, but by his untimely death the 
design had come to nothing. There seems to have been little 
more than the public-house at which the travellers dined. " It was," 
Johnson believed, " the only one of the island." He forgot, how- 
ever, as Boswell pointed out to him when he read his narrative, 
another at Sconser, and a third at Dunvegan. " These," Boswell 
adds, "are the only inns properly so dialled. There are many huts 
where whisky is sold." ' On the evening which I spent at Portree, 

1 Croker's Boswell, p. 826. 



a company of Highland volunteers were going through their yearly 
inspection, in tartan plaids and kilts, with the bagpipes playing as 
only bagpipes can. Had it been as it was in the days of their 
forefathers, when twelve Highlanders and a bagpipe made a 
rebellion, there was ample provision made here for at least five or 
six. Each volunteer, in addition to his guilt as a rebel, both for 
the arms which he carried, and the garb which he wore, would have 
been liable to be sent off by summary process to serve as a common 
soldier. But happily we live in loyal days, and under milder laws. 


These bold citizen-soldiers ran but one risk, which no doubt was 
averted by a good-natured and sympathetic magistracy. To a fine 
of five shillings for being drunk and disorderly some of them cer- 
tainly became exposed as the evening wore away. Let us hope 
that their excess was little more than an excess of loyalty in drink- 
ing the health of a Hanoverian queen. 

At Portree our travellers took horse for Kingsburgh, a farm- 
house on Loch Snizort, whither they went, though a little off their 
road, in order to see Flora Macdonald. She had married a gentle- 
man of the same clan, and so had not changed her name. " Here," 
writes Johnson, " I had the honour of saluting the far-famed Miss 


Flora Maccloiuikl, who conducted the Prince, dressed as her maid, 
through the English forces, from the island of Lewis; and when 
she came to Skye, dined with the English officers, and left her 
maid below. She must then have been a very young lady she is 
now not old- of a pleasing person and elegant behaviour. She 
told me that she thought herself honoured by my visit; and I am 
sure that whatever regard she bestowed on me was liberally 
repaid." Boswell describes her as " a little woman of a genteel 
appearance, and uncommonly mild and well-bred. To see Dr. 
Samuel Johnson, the great champion of the English Tories, salute 
Miss Elora Macdonald in the Isle of Skye was a striking sight." 
By saltitc I have little doubt that both Boswell and Johnson meant 
kiss. Johnson in his Dictionary gives it as the third meaning of 
the word, though he cites no authority for the usage. " The 
Scotch," wrote Topham in 1774, "have still the custom of saluta- 
tion on introduction to strangers. It very seldom happens that the 
salute is a voluntary one, and it frequently is the cause of disgust 
and embarrassment to the fair sex." ' By the uncouth appearance 
ot the man who thus saluted her, Elora Macdonald might with 
good reason have been astonished, for "the news had reached her 
that Mr. Boswell was coming to Skye, and one Mr. Johnson, a 
young English buck, with him." Her husband, "a large stately 
man, with a steady, sensible countenance," who was going to try 
his fortune in America, was perhaps for that reason the more care- 
less of obeying the laws of the country he was leaving. This 
evening he wore the Highland costume. " He had his tartan plaid 
thrown about him, a large blue bonnet with a knot of black riband 
like a cockade, a brown short coat of a kind of duffil, a tartan waist- 
coat with gold buttons and gold button-holes, a bluish philibeg, and 
tartan hose." The bed-curtains of the room in which our travellers 
slept were also of tartan. Johnson's bed had whatever fame could 
attach to it through its having been occupied for one night "by the 
grandson of the unfortunate King James the Second," to borrow 
Boswell's description of him. The' grandson, before many years 
passed over his head, proved not unworthy of the grandfather 
equally mean and equally selfish. 'The happy failure of the rebels 
hindered him from displaying his vices, with a kingdom for his 
stage. His worthlessness, which though it might have been sus- 
pected from his stock, could not have been known in his youth, 

1 Letters Jroin Edinburgh) pp. 33, 37. 


takes away nothing, however, from the just lame of Flora Mac- 
donalcl, " whose name will he mentioned in history, and, if courage 
and fidelity he virtues, mentioned with honour." Johnson, after 
recounting how " the sheets which the Prince used were never put 
to any meaner offices, hut were wrapped up hy the lady of the 
house, and at last, according to her desire, were laid round her in 
her grave," ends the passage with much satisfaction, hy observing : 
" These are not Whigs." Upon the tahle in the room he left a 
piece of paper " on which he had written with his pencil these 
words: Quantum ccdat "virtutibits anruin." He was thinking, no 
doubt, of the reward of ^30,000 set upon Charles Edward's head, 
and of the fidelity of the poor Highlanders who one and all refused, 
to hetray him. To more than fifty people he was forced in his 
wanderings to trust his life, many of them " in the lowest paths of 
fortune," and not one of them proved faithless. It was well for 
him that he had not had to trust to fifty hangers-on of a Court. 

The old house in which he had taken shelter for one night, and 
where Boswell and Johnson were so hospitably received, where 
they heard from their hostess the strange story of her adventures 
this interesting old house no longer exists. Some of the trees 
which surround the modern residence must he old enough to have 
seen not only our two travellers, but also the fugitive Prince. As 
we looked upon it from the opposite shore of the narrow loch it 
seemed a pleasant spot, nearly facing the west, sheltered from the 
east by hills, and embosomed in trees, with meadows in front 
sloping down to the sea. In the rear rose barren dreary hills, but 
all their lower slopes were green with grass and with the young 
crops of oats. Far down the loch the green slopes ended in a 
steep rocky coast. In the distance the mountains of Lewis fringed 
the northern sky. The steep headland on which we sat was 
beautiful with grasses and flowers and ferns and heather. Of wild 
flowers we gathered no less than thirty-six varieties on this one 
small spot. We found even a lingering primrose, though June was 
rapidly drawing to its close. How different were our thoughts as 
we watched this peaceful scene from those which, one hundred and 
forty-three years earlier, had troubled the watchers as the young 
Wanderer slept ! As the morning wore on, and he did not awake, 
one of them, in her alarm lest the soldiers should surprise him, 
roused her father, who was also in hiding, and begged that " they 

1 " With virtue weighed what worthless trash is gold." 



should not remain here too long. He said, ' Let the poor man 
repose himself after his fatigues ! and as for me, I care not, though 
they take off this old grey head ten or eleven years sooner than I 
should die in the course of nature.' lie then wrapped himself in 
the bed-clothes, and again fell fast asleep." That same afternoon the 
two fugitives set off for Portree, where the Prince took boat for 


Had our travellers ridden the whole distance from Kingsburgh 
to Dunvegan they would have travelled a weary way in rounding 


Lochs Snizort and Grishinish. But they sent their horses by land 
to a point on the other shore of the further loch, and crossed over 
themselves in Macdonald of Kingsburgh's boat. " When," said 
Johnson, "we take into computation* what we have saved and what 
we have gained by this agreeable sail, it is a great deal." They had 
still some miles of dreary riding through the most melancholy of 
moorlands. There were no roads or even paths. " A guide," 
writes Boswell, " explored the way, much in the same manner as, I 
suppose, is pursued in the wilcls of America, by observing certain 
marks known only to the inhabitants." In some places the ground 


( ' 




was so boggy that it would not bear the weight of horse and rider, 
and they were forced to dismount and walk. It was late in the 
afternoon when they reached Uunvegan Castle that hospitable 
home where Johnson " tasted lotus, and was in danger," as he said, 
"of forgetting that he was ever to depart." This ancient seat of 
the Macleods was less beautiful, but far more interesting as he saw 
it than it is at the present clay. The barrenness of nature has been 
covered with a luxuriant growth, and the land all around " which 
presented nothing but wild, moorish, hilly, and craggy appear- 
ances," is now finely wooded. But while the setting is so greatly 
improved, the ancient building which is enshrined has suffered 
beneath the hand of a restorer. It is true that some great improve- 
ments have been made. The wing which had so long been left 
unfinished, through a superstitious fear that the owner would not 
long outlive the completion " this skeleton of a castle," as Johnson 
describes it has been completed. A fine approach has been 
formed from the side of the land. But in the alterations which 
were made about fifty years ago an architect was employed who 
must surely have acquired his mischievous art in erecting sham 
fortresses on the banks of the Clyde for the wealthy traders of 
Glasgow. It is greatly to be wished that a judicious earthquake 
would bring to the ground his pepper-box turrets. Nevertheless, 
in spite of all that he has done and he did his worst, it still 
remains a noble pile, nobly placed. It is built on the rocky shore 
of a small bay, and well sheltered from the violence of the waves by 
an island which lies across the mouth, and by headlands on both 
sides. Through narrow inlets are seen the open waters of Loch 
Follart, and beyond them the everlasting hills. We saw it on a 
fine summer evening, when the long seaweeds were swaying in the 
gentle heaving of the tiny waves. Outside the bay two yachts 
were furling their sails, for the morrow was the day of rest. The 
sea-birds were hovering and screaming all around. A great heron 
was standing on a rock, with his white breast reflected in the water. 
A little to the north a long mast was lying on the beach, washed up 
from a wreck which, black with seaweed, is discovered at low tide. 
The old castle, the finely wooded hills, the rocks covered with 
fern and heath, the clear reflections in the sea of the mountains 
across the loch, the island, the inlets, the white sails of the yachts, 
the tranquil beauty of the summer evening all moved us deeply. 
One thing only was wanting. The delightful weather which the 


13 13 



country had so long enjoyed had silenced " Rorie More's Nurse." 
There was not water enough in it to have caught that good knight's 
ear; still less to have lulled him to sleep. Johnson had seen it "in 
full perfection." It was "a noble cascade," he said. But he paid 
dearly for the fineness of the sight ; for during the whole of his stay 
the weather was dreary, with high winds and violent rain. " We 
filled up the time as we could," he writes ; " sometimes by talk, 
sometimes by reading. I have never wanted books in the Isle of 


Skye." So comfortably was he situated that he could hardly be 
persuaded to move on. " Here we settled," he writes, "and did 
not spoil the present hour with thoughts of departure." When on 
Saturday Boswell proposed that they should leave on the following 
Monday, when their week would be completed, he replied : " No, 
Sir, I will not go before Wednesday. I will have some more of 
this good." 

He was fortunate in his hosts. The Laird, a young man of 
nineteen, quickly won his friendship. He had been the pupil at 
University College, Oxford, of George Strahan, who had been 


known to Johnson from his childhood. Boswell describes Macleod 
as "a most promising youth, who with a noble spirit struggles with 
difficulties, and endeavours to preserve his people. He has been 
left with an incumbrance of forty thousand pounds debt, and 
annuities to the amount of thirteen hundred pounds a year. Dr. 
Johnson said, ' If he gets the better of all this, he'll be a hero ; and 
I hope he will. I have not met with a young man who had more 
desire to learn, or who has learnt more. I have seen nobody that 
I wish more to do a kindness to than Macleod." According to 
Knox, who was an impartial witness, he was an excellent landlord. 
Distressed though he was by this heavy burthen of debt, " he 
raised no rents, turned out no tenants, used no man with severity, 
and in all respects, and under the most pressing exigences, main- 
tained the character of a liberal and humane friend of mankind." ' 
He formed at one time the design of writing his own Life. 
Unhappily- he left but a fragment. His father had died early, so 
that on the death of his grandfather, the year before Johnson's 
visit, he had succeeded to the property the estates in Skye, the 
nine inhabited isles and the islands uninhabited almost beyond 
number. " He did not know to within twenty square miles the 
extent of his territories in Skye." But vast as these domains 
were, the revenue which they produced was but small. One estate 
of eighty thousand acres was only rented at six hundred pounds 
a year. 

" His grandfather," he writes, " had entered upon his inheritance in the most 
prosperous condition ; but the course of his life was expensive, his temper convivial 
and hospitable, and he continued to impair his fortune till his death. He was the 
first of our family who was led to leave the patriarchal government of the clan, and 
to mix in the pursuits and ambition of the world. He had always been a most 
beneficent chieftain, but in the beginning of 1772, his necessities having lately in- 
duced him to raise his rents, he became much alarmed by the new spirit which had 
reached his clan. Aged and infirm he was unable to apply the remedy in person ; 
he devolved the task on me, and gave me for an assistant our nearest male relation, 
Colonel Macleod, of Talisker. The estate was loaded with debt, encumbered with 
a numerous issue from himself and my father, and charged with some jointures. 
His tenants had lost in that severe winter above a third of their cattle. 2 My friend 
and I were empowered to grant such deductions in the rents as might seem reason- 
able ; but we found it terrible to decide between the justice to creditors, the neces- 
sities of an ancient family, and the distresses of an impoverished tenantry. I called 

1 Knox's Tour through the Highlands, p. 142. covered. The snow lay long upon the ground, 

2 " In the year seventy-one they had a severe a calamity hardly known before." Johnson's 
season remembered by the name of the Black Works, ix. 74. 

Spring, from which the island has not yet re- 



the people together ; I laid before them the situation of our family ; I acknowledged 
the hardships under which they laboured ; I reminded them of the manner in 
which their ancestors had lived with mine ; I combated their passion for America; 
I promised to live among them ; I desired every district to point out some of their 
most respected men to settle with me every claim, and I promised to do everything 
for their relief which in reason I could. Our labour was not in vain. We gave con- 
siderable abatements in the rents; few emigrated; and the clan conceived the most 
lively attachment to me, which they most effectually manifested. 

" I remained at home till the end of 1774, but I consider this as the most gloomy 
period of my life. Educated in a liberal manner, fired with ambition, fond of 
society, I found myself in confinement in a remote corner of the world; without 
any hope of extinguishing the debts of my family, or of ever emerging from poverty 
and obscurity. I had also the torment of seeing my mother and sisters immured 
with me. 

"In 1774 [1773] Dr. Samuel Johnson, with his companion, Mr. Boswell, visited 
our dreary regions ; it was my good fortune to be enabled to practise the virtue of 
hospitality on this occasion. The learned traveller spent a fortnight at Dunvegan ; 
and indeed amply repaid our cares to please him by the most instructive and 
entertaining conversation. I procured for him the company of the most learned 
clergymen and sagacious inhabitants of the islands." ' 

Macleod's high praise of Johnson is in curious contradiction to 
Sir Walter Scott's account, that " when winter-bound at Dunvegan, 
Johnson's temper became most execrable, and beyond all endurance 
save that of his guide (Boswell). " : Mr. Croker, on receiving this 
account from Sir Walter, applied to the Laird's son and successor, 
"who assured him emphatically they were all delighted with him." ! 
Nevertheless, as I have already stated/ the young ladies of the 
family do not seem to have shared in this delight. The true 
Johnsonian must look upon them as " a set of wretched un-idca'd 
girls," and so forgive their want of taste. 

Macleod, two or three years after our traveller's visit, raised a 
company of his own Highlanders, and entered the army. In the 
war against our colonists in America he and his wife, who had 
accompanied him, were taken prisoners. In their captivity they 
made the acquaintance and won the friendship of George W r ash- 
ington. Let us hope that the heart of the founder of the great 
American Commonwealth was softened towards the author of 
Taxation no Tyranny by the anecdotes which he heard of him 
from his warm friend, the young Scottish chief. On his return 
home he raised the second battalion of the forty-second Highlanders, 
and served with distinction in India as their colonel. Zoffany 
painted him in his soldier's dress, surrounded with elephants, 

1 Croker's Boswell, cd. 1835, iv. 322-9. 3 Crokcr's Boswell, p. 334. 

2 Croker Correspondence, ii. 33. 4 Ante, p. 3. 


camels, and Hindoos, with Highland scenery in the background. 
Just before he started for the East he dined at the house of one of 
his tacksmen, or chief tenants, " who said that all the dishes should 
be the produce of Macleod's estate and the shores thereof. 
Amongst a profusion of other dishes there were thirteen different 
kinds of fish." ' He died in 1802 at the early age of forty-six. 

Fortunate as Johnson was in having this amiable and high- 
spirited youth for his host, scarcely less fortunate was he in his 
hostess, the Laird's mother, Lady Macleod. The title which she 
bore was one of courtesy. Up to this time the wives of Highland 
lairds, and also of Scotch judges, seem commonly to have been 
addressed as Lady. Johnson's hostess at Lochbuie, the wife of the 
laird, is called Lady Lochbuie by Boswell. The change to the 
modern usage had, however, begun ; for Ramsay of Ochtertyre, 
speaking of the year 1 769, says that, "Somebody asked Lord Auchin- 
leck before his second marriage if the lady was to be called Mrs. 
Boswell, according to the modern fashion." " Johnson was not wholly 
a stranger to his hostess. " I had once," he writes, " attracted her 
notice in London." She was able to render his stay pleasant, for 
from her long residence in England, " she knew all the arts of 
southern elegance, and all the modes of English economy." In his 
talk she took great delight, though when one day she heard him 
maintain "that no man was naturally good more than a wolf, and no 
woman either," she said in a low voice, ' This is worse than 
Swift.'" Knox, who visited Dunvegan in 1786 records the 
following anecdote : 

" Lady Macleod, who had repeatedly helped Dr. Johnson to sixteen dishes or 
upwards of tea, asked him if a small basin would not save him trouble, and be more 
agreeable. 'I wonder, Madam,' answered he roughly, 'why all the ladies ask me 
such impertinent questions. It is to save yourselves trouble, Madam, and not me.' 
The lady was silent and went on with her task."' 1 

It is not likely that Knox had the story at first hand, for when 
he visited Dunvegan, the Castle was occupied by a Major 
Alexander Macleod, who had married a daughter of Flora Mac- 
donald. It is probable, therefore, that Lady Macleod was not 
living there at the time. The number of cups of tea may have 
grown as the story passed from one to another. We shall find in 
the next chapter that at Ulinish Johnson was reported to have 

1 Knox's Tour, p. 152. * Scotland and Scotsmen of the Eighteenth Century, i. 173. 

3 Knox's Tour, p. 143. 

i 9 o THK OLD ROCK. 

exceeded even this feat in tea-drinking. Lady Kldon used to 
relate that one evening at Oxford she had helped him to fifteen. 
Cumberland, who was not famed for accuracy, did not go beyond 
a dozen as the number supplied to the great man by Mrs. Cumber- 
land. Short even of this Johnson might very well "have turned 
his cup," as he had done at Aberbrothick, and muttered, " claudite 
jam rivos, pucri. 

Lady Macleod was discontented with the barrenness of Dun- 
vegan, and longed to move the seat of the family to a spot about 
five miles off, "where she could make gardens and other orna- 
ments. She insisted that the rock was very inconvenient ; that 
there was no place near it where a good garden could be made ; 
that it must always be a rude place ; that it was a Herculean 
labour to make a dinner here." " I was vexed," writes Boswell, 
" to find the alloy of modern refinement in a lady who had so much 
old family spirit. ' Have all the comforts and conveniences of life 
upon it,' I said, 'but never leave Rorie More's cascade.' 'It is 
very well for you,' she replied, ' who have a fine place, and every- 
thing easy, to talk thus, and think of chaining honest folks to a 
rock. You would not live upon it yourself.' ' Yes, Madam,' said 
I, ' I would live upon it, were I Laird of Macleod, and should be 
unhappy if I were not upon it.' JOHNSON (with a strong voice and 
most determined manner). ' Madam, rather than quit the old rock, 
Boswell would live in the pit ; he would make his bed in the 
dungeon.' The lady was puzzled a little. She still returned to 
her pretty farm rich ground fine garden. ' Madam,' said Dr. 
Johnson, 'were they in Asia, I would not leave the rock.' ' 

Her visitors were in the right. The scene was too noble a 
one to be lightly deserted. There was no need to go five miles 
for trees and gardens. The reproaches which Johnson cast on the 
Scotch for their carelessness in adorning their homes did not here 
fall on deaf ears. His host and his host's son planted largely, and 
the fruit of his advice and of their judicious labours is seen in the 
beautiful woods and shrubberies which surround the Castle. 
Rorie More's Cascade is almost hidden by trees. A Dutch garden 
has been formed, where, under the shelter of the thick beech hedge 
which encloses it, the roses bloom. Close to the ruins of an ancient 
chapel, with glimpses through the trees of the waters of the Loch, 
a conservatory has been built. Had Johnson seen the beautiful and 
rare flowers which grow in it, he would surely never have main- 


tained that " a green-house is a childish thing." What a change 

o o o 

has come since the clay when he wrote that " the country about 
Dunvegan is rough and barren. There are no trees except in the 
orchard, which is a low, sheltered spot, surrounded with a wall." 
The rough old fellow passed over the land with his strong common 
sense and his vigorous reproofs, and the rudeness of nature has 
been tamed, and its barrenness changed into luxuriance. He de- 
served better of mankind even than he " who made two ears of 
corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where 
only one grew before ; " ' for he made trees and flowers to grow 
where before there had been none. He did that which a king of 
Scotland had tried to do and failed. James the Fifth's command 
that round every house plantations should be made had resulted, I 
was told, in the few trees which Johnson saw. But where the 
king's could be almost counted on the fingers of the two hands, 
Johnson's cover whole hill-sides. I was informed by Miss Macleod, 
of Macleod, for whose kindness I am most grateful, that she had 
no doubt that it was his reproaches which stirred up her grand- 
father to plant so widely. How luxuriantly nature can deck the 
ground when she is aided by art, was seen in the strange variety of 
flowers which we noticed in the grounds. Two seasons seemed to 
be mingled into one, for we found at the same time wild roses, the 
hawthorn, blue bells, cuckoo flowers, heather, lupins, laburnums, 
and rhododendrons. 

In ancient days the only access to the castle, says Sir Walter 
Scott, was " from the sea by a subterranean staircase, partly arched, 
partly cut in the rock, which winding up through the cliff opened 
into the court." : These steps Johnson oddly describes as " a pair 
of stairs," just as if they were in an Oxford college or the Temple. 
When the tide was up access was cut off, so that a visitor who had 
arrived by land must at the very end of his journey have taken boat 
in order to gain the entrance. A little above the lower gate, on 
the side of the passage, there was an old well, with uncovered 
mouth. At the christening of the present laird, one of the guests 
who had drunk too freely, going down the steps to his boat, fell in 
and was drowned. The well was at once enclosed, and has never 
been used since. Even in Johnson's time its water, though not 
brackish in spite of its being so near to the sea, was not much used. 
The stream which formed Rorie More's Cascade was thought to 

1 Swift's Voyage to Brobdingnag, chap. vii. a Croker's Sosuiell, p. 340. 


afford a purer supply. It was nut by this staircase that our 
travellers entered the castle, but by a long (light of steps which the 
last laircl had made on the side of the land. They were not guarded 
by hand-rails. Many years ago a milkmaid coining up them with her 
pails on a stormy day, was carried over by a high wind, and much 
hurt. They have given place to the present approach by a carriage- 
road carried over the chasm which cut off the castle from the neigh- 
bouring land. 

/ On the walls of the " stately dining-room " where our travellers 

were first received, 
I saw hanging 
some fine portraits 
by Raeburn, their 
host and his wife 
and their eldest 
son, a lad with a 
sweet honest face, 
who was lost with 
his ship, the Royal 
Charlotte, in the 

Bay of Naples. Near them hang 
" the wicked lairtl " and his two 
wives. There is a tradition that his 
first wife had fled from him on ac- 
count of his cruelty, but had been 
enticed back by a friendly letter. 
When her husband had caught her, 
he starved her to death in the dun- 
geon. It was no doubt the sight 
of these pictures which one day at 
table led the company to talk of 

portraits; when Johnson maintained that "their chief excellence is 
being like. One would like," he added, " to see how Rorie More 
looked. Truth, Sir, is of the greatest value in these things." 

In the same room stands a handsome old sideboard, bearing 
the date of 1603. Though it goes back to the year of the union of 
the two Crowns, yet of all the festive gatherings which it has 
witnessed, perhaps there is none that was more striking than that 
evening when the Highland gentlemen listened to Johnson's "full 
strain of eloquence. We were," writes Boswell, " a jovial company 




at supper. The laird, surrounded by so many of his clan, was to 
me a pleasing sight. They listened with wonder and pleasure 
while Dr. Johnson harangued." It was very likely in this same 
room that Sir Walter Scott breakfasted that August morning forty- 
one years later, "when he woke under the castle of Dunvegan. I 
had," he writes, " sent a card to the laird of Macleod, who came off 
before we were dressed, and carried us to his castle to breakfast." ' 


/ The noble drawing-room, with the deep recesses for the win- 
dows in walls nine feet thick, is not the one described by Boswell. 
The drawing-room which he saw " had formerly been," he says, " the 
bed-chamber of Sir Roderick Macleod, and he chose it because 
behind it there was a cascade, the sound of which disposed him to 
sleep." At the time of Sir Walter Scott's visit it had again become a 
bed-room, for here he slept on a stormy night. He had accepted, 
he says, " the courteous offer of the haunted apartment," and this 

1 Lockhai t's Scott, iv. 302. 
C C 



was the room which was given him. "An autumnal blast, some- 
times clear, sometimes driving mist before it, swept along the 
troubled billows of the lake, which it occasionally concealed and by 
fits disclosed. The waves rushed in wild disorder on the shore, 
and covered with foam the steep pile of rocks, which rising from 
the sea in forms something resembling the human figure have 
obtained the name of Macleod's Maidens. The voice of an angry 


cascade, termed the nurse of Rorie More, was heard from time to 
time mingling its notes with those of wind and wave. Such was 
the haunted room at Dunvegan ; and as such it well deserved a less 
sleepy inhabitant." This account Sir Walter wrote many years 
later from memory. The rocks which he saw were not Macleod's 
Maidens ; from them he was separated by nearly ten miles of 
mountains and lochs. 

In the present drawing-room a small portrait of Johnson, as- 

1 Lockhart's Scott, iv. 305. 



cribed to Reynolds, but, as I was told, by Zoffany, lianas in a place 
of honour. Here, too, is kept his letter of thanks to Macleod, 
endorsed " Dr. Johnston's." He wrote it " on the margin of the 
sea, waiting for a boat and a wind. Hoswell," he continues "grows 
impatient ; but the kind treatment which I find wherever I go 
makes me leave with some heaviness of heart an island which I am 
not very likely to see again." Among other treasures in the same 
room is Rorie More's horn, " a large cow's horn, with the mouth of 
it ornamented with silver curiously carved. It holds rather more 
than a bottle and a half. Every laird of Macleod, it is said, must, 
as a proof of his manhood, drink it off full of claret without laying 
it down." ' It is curious that Boswell makes no mention of the 


ancient cup described by Scott in a note to the second canto of 
The Lord of the Isles, or of the fairy flag. " Here," writes Pen- 
nant, " is preserved the Braolauch shi, or fairy-flag of the family, 
bestowed on it by the queen of the fairies. She blessed it with 
powers of the first importance, which were to be exerted on only 
three occasions ; on the last, after the end was obtained, an invisible 
being is to carry off standard and standard-bearer, never more to be 
seen. The flag has been produced thrice. The first time in an 
engagement against the Clan-Ronald, to whose sight the Macleods 
were multiplied ten-fold ; the second preserved the heir, being 
then produced to save the longings of the lady ; and the third 
time to save my own ; but it was so tattered, that Titania 
did not seem to think it worth sending for. This was a super- 



stition derived from the Norwegian ancestry of the house." Sir 
Walter describes it as " a pennon of silk, with something like 
round red rowan-berries wrought upon it." In the gallery I saw 
Rorie M ore's claymore, "of a prodigious size," as Boswell called 
it. He wrote this some years before he heard from old Mr 
Edwards that Johnson, when an undergraduate of Oxford, " would 
not let them say prodigious at college, for even then he was deli- 

cate in language. 

If it is not prodigious, nevertheless it is a real 
claymore or great sword, for that is what the Gaelic word means. 
Unfortunately the point is broken off. The sight of it did not 
console me for my disappointment at finding that Rorie More's bed 
is no longer in existence, with the inscription above it, " Sir Roderick 
M'Leod of Dunvegan, Knight. God send good rest." I would 
rather have seen it than a dozen swords, whether great or small. 

Johnson slept in the Fairy Bedroom in the Fairy Tower. The 
legend runs that this part of the castle was built 450 years ago by 

Pennant's Voyage to Hie Hebrides, 1774,11. 295. 

' 2 Lockhart's Life of Scott, iv. 304. 



that very uncommon being, a fairy grandmother. Godmothers 
among the fairies have often been heard of, but grandmothers, we 
believe, never before or since. Had Puck peeped in and seen 
/Johnson wearing his wig turned inside out and the wrong end in 
front as a substitute for a night-cap, 1 he might well have exclaimed 
that his mistress kept a monster, not only near but in " her close 
and consecrated bower." From this room a winding stone stair- 
case led up to the battlements, but without mounting so high John- 
son commanded a fine view. From his window he could see, far 


away across the lochs, Macleod's Tables, two lofty hills with round 
flat tops, which on all sides form a striking landmark. Much 
nearer was the Gallows Hill, where in the bad old times many a 
poor wretch, dragged from his dark and dismal dungeon, caught 
his last sight of loch and mountain and heath, doomed to death by 
the laird. Only thirty-three years before our travellers' visit a man 
was hanged there by the grandfather of their host. He was a 
Macdonakl who had murdered his father, and escaped into Mac- 
leod's country. But the old tribal feuds were long since over, and 

1 See ante, p. 3. 


he found no safety there. At Macdonald's request lie was at once 
seized and hanged. 1 

The dungeons and the pit an: not described by either Boswell 
or Johnson, though the sight of them, we would willingly believe, 
must have roused their indignation. In these old castles there are. 
few things more shocking than the close neighbourhood of festivity. 
and misery. It shows a callousness to human suffering which 
almost passes belief. If a prisoner is in a remote part of a great 
castle, the imagination then must come into play to bring his 
sufferings before the mind ; but when he is close at hand, when 
his sorrowful sighing is only kept by the thickness of a single wall 
from mingling with the prattle of children and the merriment of 
feasters, then the heart must be hard indeed which is not touched. 
At Dunvegan a door to the left opened into a pleasant sitting-room, 
and to the right into the chief dungeon. In it there was no window, 
not even one of those narrow slits by which a few rays can struggle 
in. Hut there was something worse even than the dungeon. In 
the floor there was an opening by which the unhappy prisoner 
could be lowered into a deep pit. Here he would dwell in ever- 
during dark, never cheered by the hurried glimpse of daylight such 
as broke the long night in the prison above whenever the jailer 
paid his visit. The door of the other dungeon for there was yet 
another is in the wall of a bedroom, which is furnished in so old 
a style that it is likely enough that the curious bed and hangings 
were gazed at by many a prisoner as he was hurried by. 

As we wandered through these old rooms and staircases and 
passages, we were told of a poor woman from St. Kilda, who like 
ourselves was shown over the castle. As she went on she became 
so bewildered by the number of the rooms, that she begged to be 
allowed to keep fast hold of the hand of the person who was con- 
ducting her, for fear she might get lost and never find her way out. 
The story called to my mind a man from the same remote island 
mentioned by Martin. He was taken to Glasgow, and though in 
those days it was but a small town, nevertheless he was so much 
scared that in like manner he clung to his guide's hand as long as 
he was in the streets.-' The poor woman must have breathed more 
freely when she at length reached the court-yard and looked out 
over the familiar sea. The platform, then, no doubt was rough 

in the chapter on Lochbuie for an account of the hereditary jurisdictions. 
Martin's Western Islands, p. 297. 



with stone, but now it is soft with green turf. I looked there for 
the false stone cannons which Boswell mentions, but I learnt that 
they had been moved to the top of one of the towers. In their 
place are some of iron, venerable by their antiquity, but unfit for 
service. Against one of the low walls which enclose this pleasant 
court leans a piece of old sculpture, the effigy probably of some 
lady of the family. 

Three or four miles down the loch, and out of sight ot the 
castle, lies the little island of Isa or Issay, " which Macleod said he 
would give to Dr. Johnson, on 
condition of his residing on it 
three months in the year ; nay, 
one month. Dr. Johnson was 
highly amused with the fancy. 
He talked a great deal of this 
island ; how he would build a 
house there how he would 
fortify it how he would have 
cannon how he would plant- 
how he would sally out, and 
take the Isle of Muck ; and then 
he laughed with uncommon 
glee, and could hardly leave off. 
Macleod encouraged the fancy 
of Dr. Johnson's becoming 
owner of an island ; told him 
that it was the practice in that 
country to name every man by 
his lands, and begged leave to 
drink to him in that mode, ' Island Isa, your health.' Ulinish, 
Talisker, M'Oueen, and I all joined in our different manners, while 
Dr. Johnson bowed to each with much good humour." To Mrs. 
Thrale he wrote : " Macleod has offered me an island ; if it were 
not too far off I should hardly refuse it ; my island would be 
pleasanter than Brighthelmstone if you and my master could come 
to it ; but I cannot think it pleasant to live quite alone, 

' Oblitusquc meorum, obliviscendus et illis.' " 
Much as he wistied to visit it, he was hindered even from seeing it 

' " Your friends forgetting by your friends forgot." 

Francis's Horace, Epistles, i. xi. 9. 



by the stormy weather. \Ve were more fortunate, for though we 
did not l;in<], yet we saw it from the high ground on the opposite 
shore. 'I lie greater part of the way to this spot a rough road has 
been made along which we drove, passing a great heronry. It 
was curious to watch the huge nests and the great birds in the 
trees. For nearly three miles of country they were the chief 
inhabitants. Island 1 *a would certainly have lived in great 
solitude, for after we had passed the gamekeeper's cottage close to 
the castle, we saw no signs of habitation except the herons' nests, 
till we readied a farm-house nearly three miles off. Here the road 
ended. In tiie little garden stood some large laburnum trees, all 
drooping with their golden flowers. Our way led across a wide 

heath to a fine breezy 
headland. Below us 
another stretch of 
heath-land sloped 
down to the shore of 
the loch. On the 
other side of a narrow 
channel lay Isa, with 
fine rocky cliffs to the 
west and the north, 
but lying open to the 
south-east. 1 1 was 
Midsummer Day. 
The sea was calm, a 
blue ha/.e softened the outline of the neighbouring hills, but let the 
mountains in the farther Hebrides be but faintly seen. The little 
isle lay before us with no signs on it of human habitation. Buchanan 
describes it as " fertilis frugum," ' and Martin says that it was 
" fruitful in corn ; " a but it must be many a year since the plough 
turned up its soil. It is a land of pastures. In the hot, drowsy 
air then: was nothing but the song of the lark and the bleating 
of the lambs "to break the silence of the seas." Far below us 
a shepherd with his two dogs was gathering a small flock of sheep. 
They, and the larks, and the sea-birds were the only things that 
seemed alive. We had reached, as it were, the antipodes of " that 
full tide of human existence" in which Johnson delighted. For 
not a single day would he have endured the lonely dignity of 

1 liudmnnni Of era Own/a, cl. 1725, i. 40. '* Martin's Western Islands, p. 170. 





such a domain. The road to the headland had not been quite 
free from danger, for on our return we found coiled up asleep on 
the path half hidden in the heather an adder. It was killed by a 
blow of a stick which I had brought with me from Corsica. 

On the Sunday, which we spent at Dunvegan, we chanced to 
see a sight interesting in itself, but doubly so to anyone who came 
from the South. The Free Kirk congregations of three parishes 
met in a field to take the Sacrament. It was one of the three ereat 



religious gatherings of the year, and the people Hocked in from all 
the country side. Many came by water from far-off glens that 
sloped down to the sea. From the windows of our inn we watched 
the heavy boats fully laden coming round a distant point, and 
rowing slowly up to a ledge of rocks just below us. In one we 
counted twenty-one people. Women as well as men tugged at the 
oars, and when the boat was run aground helped to drag it up the 
beach. When this was done, they all set about completing their 
toilettes. The beach served them for their tiring-house, though 

D u 


it was a good deal more open to view than a hawthorn-brake. In 
one of the boats we had noticed a man distinguished from all the 
rest by a tall black hat, pictate gmvem ac merit is. To him had 
been entrusted the clean white collars and neckties of the rowers. 
Many of the men knelt down while their wives fastened them on 
for them and smoothed their hair. One man even went so far as 
to put on his shirt in public. The women too, who were almost 
all in black, had their dresses to arrange, for in the boats they had 
kept their skirts tucked up. Some of the girls even had to get 
their bustles adjusted. Carlyle or his wife once made merry over 
their maid-of-all-work at Chelsea, who with two or three kitchen- 
dusters made the best substitute she could for that monstrous and 
most " considerable protuberance." What would he have said had 
he seen the lasses in Skye thus making themselves as ridiculous as 
even the finest lady in town ? 

When at length every one was ready, the whole party moved 
slowly along the road towards the church. Others came driving 
up in light and heavy carts, while across the moors we could see 
single wayfarers, or more often three or four together, coming in 
by different paths. There was greeting of old friends and shaking 
of hands. The church stood on the road-side, a plain building 
with the manse close by. In it was gathered that part of the 
congregation which spoke English. On the other side of the road 
the ground fell away to a little brook which had eaten its way 
through the dark-coloured peat, and here made a sudden bend. 
On the other side of the water, within the bend, there was a grassy 
slope ending in a low ridge, and dotted with little hillocks. Here 
the people sat down on the ground, facing an erection which 
looked like a large sentry-box. It was occupied by the minister, 
who addressed the people in Gaelic, speaking in a kind of musical 
recitative which carried the voice far, and must have made every 
syllable distinct. It often had a very pleading and plaintive sound. 
Below him stood two long rows of tables, and a cross table, all 
covered with white cloths. On the 'other side of the stream by the 
roadside twenty carts or more were standing, while the horses 
were quietly grazing on the moor tethered each to an iron peg. 
One horse nibbled through the cord, and came up to the outskirts 
of the meeting, but a lad left his seat and caught it. In the back- 
ground the dreary moorland sloped upwards, blackened here and 
there with heaps of peat drying in the sun and wind. I thought 



how in the old days watchers would have been posted on the most 
distant ridges to give warning of the approach of the persecutors. 
How many people were gathered together I do not know cer- 
tainly many hundreds, perhaps a thousand. All were decently, 
though some poorly dressed. Almost all had good warm clothing, 
with strong boots and shoes, none of them in holes. Very many 
of the women had tartan shawls, and one or two boys wore the 
kilt. One man I saw with tartan stockings, but the dress of all 
the rest differed in no respect from that worn in England. In 
costumes an act of uniformity seems to have been passed not only 
for the British Isles, but also for Western Europe in general. 


Travelling is losing part of its interest by the great sameness in 
clothing everywhere met with. There will soon, I fear, be no 
country left which can boast of a national dress. Though the 
meeting was out of doors, yet all were decent and sober in their 
behaviour. There was no talking or giggling, no fringe of rude 
lads and silly girls. Where the little moorland path ended that 
led from the church a table was set, on which stood a large metal 
basin to receive the offerings. Every one seemed to put in some- 
thing, even the poorest, but in the great pile of pence and half- 
pence I saw but one piece of silver. When the service in the 
church was over, the minister and people joined those on the 
moor, for it was there that the Sacrament was taken by both 


congregations together. The service began between eleven and 
twelve o'clock. Soon alter lour we saw the people come trooping- 
down to the shore. The boats were launched, sails were set, and 
with a gentle breeze they were slowly carried down the loch and 
round the headland out of our sight. 


On the morning of Tuesday, September 21, our travellers took 
advantage of a break in the stormy weather to continue their 
journey to Ulinish, a farm-house on Loch Bracaclale, occupied by 


" a plain honest gentleman," the Sheriff-substitute of the island. 
Here they passed the night, and here, if we may trust report, 
Johnson's powers as a drinker of tea were exerted to their utmost 
pitch. "Mrs. Macleod of Ulinish," writes Knox, "has not for- 
gotten the quantity of tea which she filled out to Dr. Johnson, 
amounting to twenty-two dishes." 1 Surely for this outrageous 
statement some of those excuses are needed " by which," according 
to Boswell, " the exaggeration of Highland narratives is palliated." 
From an old tower near the house a fine view was had of the 
Cuillin, or Cuchullin Hills, "a prodigious range of mountains, 
capped with rocky pinnacles in a strange variety of shapes," which 
with good reason reminded Boswell of the mountains he had seen 
near Corte in Corsica. 

1 Knox's Tour, p. 139. 


On the afternoon of the following clay " an interval of calm 
sunshine," writes Johnson, "courted us out to see a cave on the 
shore famous for its echo. When we went into the boat one of 
our companions was asked in Erse by the boatmen who they were 
that came with him. He gave us characters, I suppose, to our 
advantage, and was asked in the spirit of the Highlands whether I 
could recite a long series of ancestors. The boatmen said, as I 
perceived afterwards, that they heard the cry of an English ghost. 
This, Boswell says, disturbed him. We came to the cave, and 
clambering up the rocks came to an arch open at one end, one 
hundred and eighty feet long, thirty broad in the broadest part, and 
about thirty feet high. There was no echo; such is the fidelity of 
reports ; but I saw what I had never seen before, mussels and 
whelks in their natural state. There was another arch in the rock 
open at both ends." This cave was not on the shore of Skye, as 
Johnson's account seems to imply, but in the little island of Wia. 
From Boswell we learn that it was to an island they were taken. 
We were fortunate enough on our visit to this wild part of the 
coast to have as our guide one of Macleod's gamekeepers. " A 
man," to borrow from Johnson the praise which he bestowed on 
one of his guides, ' of great liveliness and activity, civil and ready- 
handed." 1 We had passed the night in the lonely little inn at 
Struan on the shore of an arm of Loch Bracadale, where we had 
found decent, if homely, lodging. In a fisherman's boat we rowed 
down the loch, sometimes in mid-channel and sometimes skirting the 
cliffs, which rose like a wall of rock to a great height above us. We 
passed little islets, and the mouths of caverns which filled with 
clouds of spray as the long rolling waves swept in from the Atlantic. 
On the ledges of the rocks, hovering over our heads, swimming 
and diving in the sea, were cormorants, puffins, oyster catchers, 
gulls, curlews and guillemots. We had none of us looked upon a 
wilder scene. When we reached our island we were pleased to find 
that the narrow beach at which we were to land was guarded by a 
huge headland from the swell of the sea. Whether we visited the 
cave which our travellers saw I do not feel at all sure, for it does 
not correspond with their description. My friend, the gamekeeper, 
was sure that it was the place, and I was willing to advance my 
faith more than half-way to meet his assertion. We scrambled up 

1 For his services and for many other acts of kindness, I am indebted to the Rev. Roderick 
Macleod of Macleod. 


tin- steep beach, and then over rocks covered with grass and ferns, 
between the sides ol a narrow gorge. At the top a still steeper 
path led downwards to a cave, at the bottom of which we could see 
a glimmer of light. Scrambling upwards again, we reached a 
place where we could hear the sea murmuring on the other side. 
We afterwards climbed to the top of the cliff and sat down on the 
ground which formed the roof of the cavern. It was covered with 
heather and ferns, and patches of short grass ; a pleasant breeze 
was blowing, the sea birds were uttering their cries, far beneath us 
we could hear the beating of the surge. Across the Loch on both 
sides, the dark cliffs rose to a great height, and in the background 
stood the mountains of Skye and of the mainland. Had the air 
been very clear, we might have seen on the north-west the wooded 
hills of Dunvegan. 

Two or three days later, when I was giving two Highlanders 
an account of this cavern, one of them asked with a humorous 
smile : " Did they not tell you it was Prince Charlie's Cave ? He 
must,' I am thinking, have been sleeping everywhere." His 
companion laughed and said : " They have lately made a new one 
near an hotel which they have opened at - ." The innkeepers 
should surely show a little originality. Why should they not 
advertise Dr. Johnson's Cave, and show the tea-pot out of which 
he drank his two-and-twenty cups of tea when he picnicked there ? 
They would do well also to discover the great cave in Skye which 
Martin tells of. "It is supposed," he writes, " to exceed a mile in 
length. The natives told me that a piper who was over-curious 
went in with a design to find out the length of it, and after he 
entered began to play on his pipe, but never returned to give 
an account of his progress." l 

From Ulinish our travellers sailed up Loch Bracadale on their 
way to Talisker. " We had," says Boswell, " good weather and a 
fine sail. The shore was varied with hills, and rocks, and corn- 
fields, and bushes, which are here dignified with the name ot 
natural wood" They landed at Ferneley, a farm-house about 
three miles from Talisker, whither they made their way over the 
hills, Johnson on horseback, the rest on foot. The weather, no 
doubt, had been too uncertain for them to venture into the open sea 
round the great headland at the entrance of the loch. Skirting the 
stern and rock-bound coast, a few miles' sail would have brought 

1 M. Martin's Western Islands, p. 150. 







them to Talisker Hay, within sight of Colonel Macleod's house. 
Yet, had the wind risen, or had there been a swell from the 
Atlantic, they would have been forced to keep out to sea. Boswell 
describes " the prodigious force and noise with which the billows 
break on the shore." "It is," says Johnson, "a coast where no 
vessel lands but when it is driven by a tempest on the rocks." 
Only two nights before his arrival two boats had been wrecked 
there in a storm. " The crews crept to Talisker almost lifeless 
with wet, cold, fatigue, and terror." What could not be safely done 


near the end of September, might, we thought, be hazarded in 
June. As the day was fine and we had a good sea-boat, an 
old fisherman to manage it, our trusty gamekeeper to help in 
rowing, and an accomplished yachtsman in our artist, we boldly 
sailed forth into the Atlantic. We passed in sight of Macleod's 
Maidens, beneath rocks such as Mr. Brett and Mr. Graham 
delight to paint. In one spot we were shown where, a few years 
before, a huge mass had come tumbling down. At the entrance to 
the Bay we passed through a narrow channel in the rocks with the 
waves foaming on each side. Even our stout-hearted game- 



keeper lor a moment looked uneasy, but with a tew strong strokes 
of the oars the worst was past, and we were out of the broken 
waters, and in full sight of the little bay with its beach of great 
black stones, its rugged and steep headlands, and its needle 
rocks, with one of the sunniest of valleys for its background. 
Johnson thought it "the place, beyond all he had seen, from 
which the gay and the jovial seem utterly excluded ; and where 
the hermit might grow old in meditation without possibility 

VlliWS AT TAl.ISKliK. 

of disturbance or interruption." To us 
on that fine June day, with the haze 
lying on the hills, it was as if 

"We came unto a land 
In which it seemed always afternoon." 

One sight, to which I had long looked 
forward, I missed. It was no longer "a 
land of streams." There was no spot where 

" The slender stream 
Along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem." 

Boswell had counted " fifteen different waterfalls near the house in 
the space of about a quarter of a mile." " They succeeded one 
another so fast," said Johnson, " that as one ceased to be heard 
another began." This one thing was wanting on that beautiful 
afternoon which we spent in this delightful spot. The voice of 
the cascades was still. There were no waterfalls streaming down 


the lofty hills. One indeed we found by following the course of 
a river up a fine glen, but owing to the long drought its roar had 
sunk into a murmur. 

Johnson's host, Colonel Macleod, was the good kinsman who 
had befriended the young Laird in the troubles which he encoun- 
tered on his succession to the property. 

"He had," writes Boswell, "been bred to physic, had a tincture of scholarship 
in his conversation, which pleased Dr. Johnson, and he had some very good books ; 
and being a colonel in the Dutch service, he and his lady, in consequence of having 
lived abroad, had introduced the ease and politeness of the continent into this rude 

Pennant, writing in the year 1774, thus describes these Scotch 
regiments in the Dutch service : 

" They were formed out of some independent companies sent over either in the 
reign of Elizabeth or James VI. At present the common men are but nominally 
national, for since the scarcity of men occasioned by the late war, Holland is no 
longer permitted to draw her recruits out of North Britain. But the officers are all 
Scotch, who are obliged to take oaths to our government, and to qualify in presence 
of our ambassador at the Hague." ' 

In the war which broke out between England and Holland in 

1781, this curious system, which had survived the great naval 
battles between the two countries in the seventeenth century, at last 
came to an end. In the Gentlemen s Magazine for December, 

1782, we read, that on the first of that month : 

" The Scotch Brigade in the Dutch service renounced their allegiance to their 
lawful Sovereign, and took a new oath of fidelity to their High Mightinesses. They 
are for the future to wear the Dutch uniform, and not to carry the arms of the 
enemy any longer in their colours, nor to beat their march. They are to receive the 
word of command in Dutch, and their officers are to wear orange-coloured sashes, 
and the same sort of spontoons as the officers of other Dutch regiments." 2 

Colonel Macleod, if he was still living, lost, of course, his com- 
mand. At the time of our travellers' visit he was on leave of 
absence, which had been extended for some years, says Johnson, 
"in this time of universal peace." The knowledge which he had 
gained in Holland he turned to good account in Skye. He both 
drained the land which lay at the foot of the mountains round 
Talisker, and made a good garden. ' He had been," says Knox, 
" an observer of Dutch improvements. He carried off in proper 
channels the waters of two rivers which often deluged the bottom. 
He divided the whole valley by deep and sometimes wide ditches 
into a number of square fields and meadows. He now enjoys the 

1 Pennant's Voyage to the Hebrides, ed. 1774, p. 289. - Gentleman's Magazine, 1782, p. 595. 

E K 


fruits of his ingenuity in the quantity ut grain aiul luiy raised 
thereon." He had made it "the seat of plenty, hospitality, and 
good nature." ' To few places in our islands could Dutch art have 
been transplanted where it would find nature more kindly. Johnson 
noticed the prosperous growth of the trees, which, though they 
were not many years old, were already very high and thick. 
Could he have seen them at the present clay he would have owned 
that even in the garden of an Oxford College there are few finer. 
The soil is so good, we were told, " that things have only to be 
planted and they grow." So sheltered from all the cold winds is 
the position, and so great is the warmth diffused by the beneficent 
Gulf Stream, that the whole year round flowers live out of doors 
which anywhere but on the southern coasts of Devonshire and 
Cornwall would be killed by the frosts. The garden is delightfully 
old-fashioned, entirely free from the dismal formality of ribbon- 
borders. Fruit trees, flowers, shrubs, and vegetables mingle 
together. It lies open to the south-west, being enclosed on the 
other sides with groves of trees. A lawn shaded by a noble 
sycamore stretches up to the house. Boswell would have been 
pleased to find that smooth turf now covers the court which in his 
time was " most injudiciously paved with round blueish-grey 
pebbles, upon which you walked as if upon cannon-balls driven into 
the ground." The house "in its snug corner " has been greatly 
enlarged, but the old building still remains. Unfortunately no 
tradition has been preserved of the room occupied by Johnson. 
Much as he admired this sequestered spot "a place where the 
imagination is more amused cannot easily be found," he said 
nevertheless it was here that he quoted to Boswell the lines of the 


" Every island is a prison 

Strongly guarded by the sea ; 
Kings and princes, for that reason, 
Prisoners are as well as we." 

If Talisker is a prison, it is a goodly one. There are few places 
which linger more pleasantly in my memory. To the beauty of 
the scenery and the delightfulness of the weather was added the 
hospitality which we received from our kind hostess, Mrs. Cameron. 
Time, alas, failed us to climb " the very high rocky hill " at the 
back of the house, whence Boswell had " a view of Barra, the Long 

1 Knox's Tour, p. 140. 









Island, Bernera, the Loch of Dunvegan, part of Rum, part of 
Raasay, and a vast deal of the Isle of Skye." According to 
Pennant, who had made the ascent the year before : 

" It has in front a fine series of genuine basaltic columns, resembling the Giant's 
Causeway. The ruins of the columns at the base made a grand appearance ; they 
were the ruins of the creation. This is the most northern basalt I am acquainted 
with ; the last of four, all running from south to north the Giant's Causeway, 
Staffa, the rock Humbla, and Briis-rnhawl. The depth of ocean in all probability 
conceals the lost links of this chain." l 

This mountain, which he calls Briis-mhawl, in Boswell's narra- 
tive appears as Prieshwell. 

At Talisker Johnson made the acquaintance of young Macleane 
of Col, that amiable man whose death by drowning the following 
year he so much lamented. Under his guidance, taking leave of 
their kind hosts, they rode across the island to Sconscr, on the 
coast opposite to Raasay. Of this part of their journey they tell us 
next to nothing, though they passed through the wildest scenery. 
For the first two or three miles their path wound up a valley that 
is not unworthy of the most delightful parts of Cumberland. It is 
altogether free from the utter desolation which casts a gloom over 
so much of Skye. The sloping sides of the hills are covered with 
short grass and fragrant herbs. All about in summer time are 
dotted the sheep and lambs, answering each other with their bleats. 
When we travelled along this way we passed a band of five-and- 
twenty shearers who had been hard at work for many days. The 
farm of Talisker keeps a winter stock of between five and six 
thousand Cheviot sheep, and the clipping takes a long time. 
Dropping into the valley on the other side of the hills the road 
leads beyond the head of Loch Harport across the island to 
Sligachan, where amidst gloomy waste now stands a comfortable 
hotel. In the little garden which surrounds it is the only trace 
of cultivation to be anywhere seen. It would have seemed im- 
possible to add anything to the dreariness of the scenery ; never- 
theless something has been added by the long line of gaunt 
telegraph posts which stretches across the moor. Perhaps at this 
spot stood the little hut where our travellers made a short halt, as 
they watched an old woman grinding at the quern. With one hand 
she rapidly turned round the uppermost of two mill-stones, while 
with the other she poured in the corn through a hole pierced 

1 Voyage to the Hebrides, ed. 1774, p. 291. 



through it. A ride of a few more miles brought the party, through 
the gloom of evening, to Sconser, where they dined at the little 


At Sconser our travellers took boat for Strolimus, on their way 
to the friendly farmhouse at Corrichatachin, where they had been 


so hospitably received nearly three weeks earlier. Their horses 
they sent round a point of land to meet them further down the 

" It wns seven o'clock," writes Boswell, "when we got into our boat. We had 
many showers, and it soon grew pretty dark. Dr. Johnson sat silent and patient. 
Once he said, as he looked on the black coast of Skye black, as being composed 
of rocks seen in the dusk--' This is very solemn.' Our boatmen were rude singers, 
and scorned so like wild Indians, that a very little imagination was necessary to give 
one an impression of being upon an American river. We landed at Strolimus, from 
whence we got a guide to walk before us, for two miles, to Corrichatachin. Not 
being able to procure a horse for our baggage, I took one portmanteau before me, 
and Joseph another. We had but a single star to light us on our way. It was about 
eleven when we arrived. We were most hospitably received by the master and 
mistress, who were just going to bed, but, with unaffected ready kindness, made a 
good fire, and at twelve o'clock at night had supper on the table." 


Here, as 1 have already described, they rested that twentieth 
Sunday after Trinity, when Boswell, recovering from his drinking 
bout, " by divine interposition, as some would have taken it," 
opened his Prayer Book at the Apostles' injunction against drunken- 
ness contained in the Epistle for that day. Here, too, the High- 
landers, drinking their toasts over the punch, won by Johnson's easy 
and social manners, " vied with each other in crying out, with a 
strong Celtic pronunciation, ' Toctor Shonson, Toctor Shonson, 
your health ! " The weather was so stormy that it was not till the 
afternoon of Tuesday, September 28, that they were able to 


continue their journey. That night they arrived at Ostig, on the 
north-western side of the promontory of Slate, and found a hospi- 
table reception at the Manse. Here, too, they were kept prisoners 
by wind and rain. " I am," writes Johnson, " still confined in Skye. 
We were unskilful travellers, and imagined that the sea was an 
open road which we could pass at pleasure ; but we have now 
learned with some pain that we may still wait for a long time the 
caprices of the equinoctial winds, and sit reading or writing, as I 
now do, while the tempest is rolling the sea or roaring in the moun- 
tains." Nevertheless, so good was the entertainment which they 
received that, as Boswell tells us, " the hours slipped along imper 
ceptibly." They had books, and company, and conversation. In 



strange contrast to the wilclness of the scenery and the roughness 
of the weather was their talk one day about Shenstone and his 
Love Pastorals. It was surely not among the stormy Hebrides 
that the poet of the Leasowes, whose "ambition was rural elegance," 
would have expected to be emoted. Yet here it was, in the midst 
of beating winds and dashing showers, with the storm-tossed sea in 
view of the windows, that Boswell repeated the pretty stanza : 

" She gazed as I slowly withdrew ; 

My path I could hardly discern ; 
So sweetly she bade me adieu, 

I thought that she bade me return." 

On Friday, October i, they took advantage of a break in the 

weather to move on 


to Armidale, about a 
mile from the Sound 
of Slate, where they 
waited for a favour- 
able wind to carry 
them to lona. It 
came, or rather 
seemed to come, on 
the following Sun- 

" While we were chat- 
ting," writes Boswell, "in 
the indolent style of men 
who were to stay here all 
this day at least, we were 
suddenly roused at being told that the wind was fair, that a little fleet of herring- 
busses was passing by for Mull, and that Mr. Simpson's vessel was about to sail. 
Hugh M'Donald, the skipper, came to us, and was impatient that we should get 
ready, which wo soon did. ])r. Johnson, with composure and solemnity, repeated 
the observation of Epictetus, that 'as man has the voyage of death before him, 
whatever may be his employment, he should be ready at the master's call ; and an 
old man should never be far from the shore, lest he should not be able to get him- 
self ready.'" 

For some hours they sailed along with a favourable breeze, 
catching sight of the Isle of Rum as they rounded the point ; but 
when they had got in full view of Ardnamurchan, the wind changed. 
They tried tacking, but a storm broke upon them, night came on, 
and they were forced to run through the darkness for Col. Boswell's 
account of this dangerous voyage is too long to emote, and too good 




to abridge. In tin's dreary spot they were weather-bound for more 
than a week. il There is," writes Johnson, " literally no tree upon the 
island; part of it is a sandy waste, over which it would be really 
dangerous to travel in dry weather, and with a high wind." The 
sight of these hills of sand struck him greatly. " I heard him,' 1 
writes Boswell, "after we were in the house, repeating to himself, 
as he walked about the room, 

'And smothered in the dusty whirlwind dies. 1 '' 
Over this low-lying island the Atlantic blasts swept in all their 

"V ' 

fury. On Sunday October 10, Boswell recorded : " There was this 
day the most terrible storm of wind and rain that I ever remember. 
It made such an awful impression on us all, as to produce, for some 
time, a kind of dismal quietness in the house." 

The rough weather spread far. In London, as the old weather 
tables tell us, it was "a stormy day with heavy rains and with little 
intermission night and day." On the previous Friday Horace 
Walpole had come home in a tempest from Bushey Park. " I 

1 Gentleman 's Magazine, 1774, p. 394. 


hope," he wrote, "Jupiter I'luvius has not been so constant at 
Ampthill. 1 think he ought to be engraved at the top of every map 
of Hngland." Happily in the young Laird of Col our travellers had 
the kindest of hosts. 1 1 is house " new-built and neat " still stands ; 
Grissipol, which they visited, is in ruins. It was not till the morning 
of Thursday, the 141)1, that they were able to set sail. With a 
fair breeze they were soon carried over to Tobermory, or Mary's 
Well, a beautiful bay in the Isle of Mull. 

'There are (writes ISoswell) sometimes sixty or seventy sail here: to-day there 
were twelve or fourteen vessels. To see such a fleet was the next thing to seeing a 
town. The vessels were from different places ; Clyde, Campbeltown, Newcastle, &c. 
One was returning to Lancaster from Hamburgh. After having been shut up so long 
in Col, the sight of such an assemblage of moving habitations, containing such 
a variety of people engaged in different pursuits, gave me much gaiety of spirit. 



When we had landed, Dr. Johnson said, ' Boswell is now all alive. He is like 
Antaeus ; he gets new vigour whenever he touches the ground.' " 

No such fleet is, I imagine, ever to be seen there at the present 
day, for one steamer does the work of many small vessels. The 
beauty of this little haven has been long celebrated. Sacheverell, 
who visited it two hundred years ago, thus describes it : 

" To the landward it is surrounded with high mountains covered with woods, 
pleasantly intermixed with rocks, and three or four cascades of water, which throw 
themselves from the top of the mountain with a pleasure that is astonishing, all which 
together make one of the oddest and most charming prospects I ever saw. Italy 
itself, with all the assistance of art, can hardly afford anything more beautiful and 

He had been sent there to fish for sunken treasure. Martin, 

1 Walpole's Letters, v. 512. 

2 W. Sachevefell's Account of I he Isle of Man, ed. 1702, p. 126. 








whose Description of the ll'cstcrn Isles was published the year after 
Sacheverell's book, gives the following acccount of this expedi- 
tion : 

" One of the ships of the Spanish Armada, called the Elorida, perished in this 
Bay, having been blown up by one Smallet, of Dumbarton, in the year 1588. There 
was a great sum of gold and money on board, which disposed the Earl of Argyle and 
some Englishmen to attempt the recovery of it. Some pieces of gold and money and 
a golden chain was taken out of her. I have seen some fine brass cannon, some 
pieces of eight, teeth, beads and pins that had been taken out of that ship. Several 
of the inhabitants of Mull told me that they had conversed with their relations that 
were living at the harbour when the ship was blown up." ' 

"One Smallet" was an ancestor of the great novelist, who in his 
Humphry Clinker artfully brings old Matthew Bramble to Tober- 
mory so that he may celebrate the great deed of his forefather. 
According to his ac- 
count " the clivers 
found the hull of the 
vessel still entire, but 
so covered with sand 
that they could not 
make their way be- 
tween decks. " : Mr. 
Froude mentions the 

loss of this great C01VAV 

Spanish galleon, but 

did not know the name of the harbour.^ Sir Walter Scott, who 
visited Tobermory a century and a quarter after Sacheverell, said 
that, " the richness of the round steep green knolls, clothed 
with copse and glancing with cascades, and a pleasant peep at a 
small fresh-water loch embosomed among them the view of the 
bay surrounded and guarded by the island of Colvay the gliding 
of two or three vessels in the more distant sound and the 
row of the gigantic Arclnamurchan mountains closing the scene to 
the north, almost justify his eulogium who in 1688 declared the Bay 
of Tobermory might equal any prospect in Italy." With one thing 
Sacheverell was not content, and that was the weather. " With the 
dog-days," he says, " the autumnal rains began, and for six weeks 
we had scarce a good day. The whole frame of nature seemed in- 
hospitable, bleak, stormy, rainy, windy." 

' Martin's Western Islands, p. 253. 
* Humphry Clinker, iii. 57. 

3 History of England, e<l. 1870, xii. 443. 

4 Lockhart's Life of Scott, iv. 338. 

F F 


There was a tolerable inn, where " a dish of tea and some good 
bread and butter" restored Johnson's good humour, which had been 
somewhat ruffled by the miserable accommodation which he had had 
on shipboard. They did not pass the night here, but became the 
guests of a Dr. Macleane who lived close by. " Col," wrote John- 
son, " made every Macleane open his house where we came, and 
supply us with horses when we departed." Here they were once 
more kept prisoners by the weather. Not only was there wind and 
rain, but the rivers, they were told, were impassable. They had 
books and good talk. In the daughter of the house Johnson at last 
found " an interpreter of Erse poetry." At Dunvegan he com- 
plained that " he could never get the meaning of a song explained 
to him." Miss Macleane had been bred in the Lowlands, and had 
gained Gaelic by study. She therefore understood the exact nature 
of his inquiries. 

" She is [he said] the most accomplished lady that I have found in the Highlands. 
She knows French, music, and drawing, sews neatly, makes shell-work, and can milk 
cows ; in short, she can do every thing. She talks sensibly, and is the first person 
whom I have found, that can translate Erse poetry literally." 


On Saturday, October 16, the weather changed for the better, 
owing to a new moon, as Boswell thought. A long clay's journey 
lay before them, for they hoped to reach Inchkenneth, a little island 
which lies at the mouth of Loch Na Keal, close to the western 
coast of Mull. Here they were to be the guest of Sir Allan 


"We set out [writes Boswell] mounted on little Mull horses. Dr. Johnson was 

not in very good humour. He said, it was a dreary country, much worse than Skye. I 
differed from him. ' O, Sir,' said he, ' a most dolorous country ! ' We had a very 
hard journey. I had no bridle for my sheltie, but only a halter ; and Joseph rode 
without a saddle. At one place, a loch having swelled over the road, we were 
obliged to plunge through pretty deep water. Dr. Johnson observed, how helpless a 
man would be, were he travelling here alone, and should meet with any accident ; 
and said, ' he longed to get to a country of saddles and bridles.' " 

When he called the country " most dolorous" he had no doubt 
in mind the lines which describe the march of " the adventurous 
bands " in Paradise Lost : 

"Through many a dark and dreary vale 
They passed and many a region dolorous." 



Writing to Mrs. Thrale he speaks of this day's journey " as diffi- 
cult and tedious over rocks naked and valleys untracked through a 
country of barrenness and solitude. We came almost in the dark 
to the sea side, weary and dejected, having met with nothing but 
water falling from the mountains that could raise any image of de- 
light." Sacheverell had found the same ride no less gloomy. 

" We proceeded on our journey [he writes] over a country broken, rocky, boggy, 
barren, and almost wholly unarablc. Wet and weary at last we came to a Change- 


House (so they call a house of entertainment) ; if a place that had neither 
bed, victuals, or drink may be allowed that name. Our servants cut us green fern, 
wet as it was, for bedding. We set forward early next morning. If I thought the 
first day's journey hard and unequal, this was much worse ; high and craggy 
mountains, horrid rocks and dreadful precipices ; Pelion upon Ossa are trifling and 
little if compared to them." ' 

Our travellers made their way so slowly over this rough country 

1 Account of the Isle of Man, p. 130. 


that though they started at eleven, they did not reach the coast till 
seven at night. Yet they had been told that the distance was but 
eight miles. To add to the gloom, it was here that Johnson dis- 
covered that he had lost that famous piece of timber, his huge oak- 
stick. Seeing how late it was, Col, who throughout had been their 
guide, " determined that they should pass the night at Macquarrie's, 
in the Island of Ulva, which lies between Mull and Inchkenneth." 
The ferry-boat unfortunately was on the other side of the narrow 
channel. The wind was so high that their shouts could not be 
heard, and the darkness was too great for their signals to be seen. 
They might have been forced to spend the night on the shore had 
there not chanced to be lying in the little Sound of Ulva a ship 
from Londonderry. In its long-boat they were ferried over. 
In this same Sound less than a year later, on the night of 
September 25, 1774, poor Col lost his life. " His boat," says Sir 
Walter Scott, " was swamped by the intoxication of the sailors, who 
had partaken too largely of Macquarrie's wonted hospitality." 
Here, perhaps, the Macleanes will some day set up a memorial to 
the unhappy youth. " Col does every thing for us," said Johnson : 
"We will erect a statue to Col. He is a noble animal. He is as 
complete an islander as the mind can figure. He is a farmer, 
a sailor, a hunter, a fisher ; he will run you down a dog ; if any man 
has a tail, it is Col. He is hospitable; and he has an intrepidity 
of talk whether he understands the subject or not." His untimely 
end was regretted by those who only knew "this amiable man " by 
the reports of our two travellers. " At the death of Col," said 
Boswell, " my wife wept much." ' " There is great lamentation 
here," wrote Johnson from Lichfield, "for the death of Col. Lucy 
is of opinion that he was wonderfully handsome." Though they 
were in the land of second-sight there was no shadow thrown 
by coming events on the very liberal entertainment provided by 
their host. Nevertheless the Chief of Diva's Isle had a sea 
of troubles of his own to oppose. He was almost overwhelmed 
with the stormy waters, not of Loch Gyle, but of debt. " His 
ancestors," wrote Johnson to Mrs. Thrale, " had reigned in Ulva 
beyond memory, but he has reduced himself by his negligence and 
folly to the necessity of selling this venerable patrimony." His 
house was a strange mixture of luxury and squalor. The room 
in which Johnson slept was unbearded, and through a broken 

1 Croker's Boswell, p. 826. 


window the rain had driven in and turned the floor to mud. He 
thus describes his night's lodging : " The house and the furniture 
are not always nicely suited. We were driven once, by missing 
a passage, to the hut of a gentleman where, after a very liberal 
supper, when I was conducted to my chamber, I found an elegant 
bed of Indian cotton, spread with fine sheets. The accommodation 
was flattering ; I undressed myself, and felt my feet in the 
mire. The bed stood upon the bare earth which a long course 
of rain had softened to a puddle." 


Our travellers having stayed but one night at Ulva, on the 
morning of Sunday, October 17, took boat and rowed to Inchken- 
neth, " an island about a mile long, and perhaps half a mile broad, 
remarkable for pleasantness and fertility. It is verdant and grassy, 
and fit both for pasture and tillage ; but it has no trees." The only 
inhabitants were " the chief of the ancient and numerous clan of Mac- 
leane, his daughter and their servants." In a letter to Mrs. Thrale 
Johnson says : " Sir Allan, a chieftain, a baronet, and a soldier, in- 
habits in this insulated desert a thatched hut with no chambers. 
He received us with the soldier's frankness and the gentleman's 
elegance, and introduced us to his daughters, two young ladies who 
have not wanted education suitable to their birth, and who in their 
cottage neither forgot their dignity nor affected to remember it. 
His affairs are in disorder by the fault of his ancestors, and while 
he forms some scheme for retrieving them, he has retreated 
hither." By chambers, Johnson seems to mean rooms on an upper 
floor. Boswell describes the habitation as commodious, " though it 
consisted but of a few small buildings only one story high." In two 
of these huts were the servants' rooms and the kitchen. " The 
dinner was plentiful and delicate. Neither the comforts nor the 
elegancies of life were wanting. There were several dishes and 
variety of liquors." Sir Walter Scott many years later visited the 
island in company with a Gloucestershire baronet, Sir George 
Onesiphorus Paul : 

" He seemed to me, ' writes Sir Walter, " to suspect many of the Highland tales 
which he heard, but he showed most incredulity on the subject of Johnson's having 
been entertained in the wretched huts of which we saw the ruins. He took me aside, 


and conjured me to tell him the truth of the matter. 'This Sir Allan,' said he, 'was 
lie a regular baroni^ or was his title such a tradilional one as you find in Ireland ? ' 
1 assured my excellent acquaintance that, ' for my own part, I would have paid more 
respect to a knight of K.erry, or knight of Glynn ; yet Sir Allan Macleane was a 
regular barond by patent ;' and, having given him this information, I took the liberty 
of asking him, in return, whether he would not in conscience prefer the worst cell in 
the jail at Gloucester (which he had been very active in overlooking while the build- 
ing was going on) to those exposed hovels where Johnson had been entertained by 
rank and beauty. He looked round the little islet, and allowed Sir Allan had some 
advantage in exercising ground ; but in other respects he thought the compulsory 
tenants of Gloucester had greatly the advantage. Such was his opinion of a place, 
concerning which Johnson has recorded that ' it wanted little which palaces could 
afford.' " 

Johnson, by the way, did not write " it wanted," but " we wanted 
little that palaces afford." We have from Sir Walter also an 
amusing story which shows how the chief of the Macleanes in the 
embarrassment of his affairs had learnt to hate the sight of an 
attorney writers, as they are called in Scotland : 

" Upon one occasion he made a visit to a friend residing at Carron lodge, on 
the banks of the Carron, where the banks of that river are studded with pretty villas : 
Sir Allan, admiring the landscape, asked his friend whom that handsome seat 

belonged to. ' M ; the writer to the signet,' was the reply. ' Umph ! ' said Sir 

Allan, but not with an accent of assent, ' I mean that other house.' ' Oh ! that 

belongs to a very honest fellow, Jamie , also a writer to the signet.' ' Umph ! ' 

said the Highland chief of Macleane, with more emphasis than before, ' And yon 
smaller house ? ' That belongs to a Stirling man ; I forget his name, but I am sure 
he is a writer too ; for .' Sir Allan, who had recoiled a quarter of a circle back- 
ward at every response, now wheeled the circle entire, and turned his back on the 
landscape, saying, ' My good friend, I must own you have a pretty situation here ; 
but d n your neighbourhood.' " ' 

In his dislike of lawyers he would have found a common feeling 
in Johnson, who one day, " when inquiry was made concerning a 
person who had quitted a company where he was, observed that he 
did not care to speak ill of any man behind his back, but he believed 
the gentleman was an attorney." Happily there was nothing to dis- 
turb the tranquillity of the scene during the visit of our travellers. 
The Sunday which Johnson spent on Inchkenneth was, as he told 
Boswell, "the most agreeable he had ever passed." He thus de- 
scribes it to Mrs. Thrale : "Towards evening Sir Allan told us 
that Sunday never passed over him like another day. One of the 
ladies read, and read very well, the evening service, ' and Paradise 
was opened in the wild.' " Such was the impression produced on 
him that he commemorated the day in some pretty Latin lines 

1 Croker's Boswell, p. 384. 2 Pope. Eloisa to Abelard, 1. 135. 



entitled, Insula Saudi KcnnctJii. Though he would not attend a 
Scotch church and hear Robertson preach, yet a woman's reading 
the English service did not shock him. 

" Quid quod sacrifici versavit fcmina libros ? 
Legitimas faciunt pectora pura preces." 

"A woman's hand, 'tis true, turned o'er the sacred leaves, 
But prayer from hearts so pure God's sanction sure receives." 

He thus prettily ends his verses : 

" Quo vagor ulterius ? quod ubique requiritur hie est ; 
Hie secura quies, hie et honestus amor." 

" Why should we further roam ? here what all seek we gain, 
Both peace without a care, and love without a stain." 


Sir Allan had chosen well his hermitage. The landing-place is 
on the south-eastern side of the island, in a little bay with a sandy 
beach, sheltered by a low point from the storms coming from the 
north-west, while the cold blasts from the north and the north-east 
are kept off by a low hill. The ground slopes up from the shore 
in pleasant meadow land. At the bottom of the slope, a little 
above the beach, Sir Allan, I conjecture, had his habitation. Here 
are the ruins of a farmhouse which was burnt down a few years 
ago. It is very likely that it occupied the same site as his cottages. 


The road marked with cart-wheels, as on the main land, at the 
sight of which Dr. Johnson's heart was cheered, I failed to dis- 
cover. We wandered up the little path to where on the rising 
ground the ruined chapel stands within the hearing of the wave. 

" \Ve walked uncovered into tlie chapel," writes Johnson, "and saw in the 
reverend ruin the effects of precipitate reformation. The floor is covered with 
ancient grave-stones, of -which the inscriptions are not now legible. The altar is 
not yet quite demolished; beside it, on the right side, is a IMS relief oi the Virgin 
with her child, and an angel hovering over her. On the other side still stands a 
hand-bell, which, though it has no clapper, neither Presbyterian bigotry nor bar- 
barian wantonness has yet taken away. The chapel is thirty-eight feet long and 
eighteen broad. lioswell, who is very pious, went into it at night to perform his 
devotions, but came back in haste for fear of spectres. Near the chapel is a foun- 
tain, to which the water, remarkably pure, is conveyed from a distant hill through 
pipes laid by the Romish clergy, which still perform the office of conveyance though 
they have never been repaired since Popery was suppressed." 

Our boatman, whom I had in vain questioned about Johnson's 
host, led me up to the tomb of an old knight, clothed in armour, 
with a dog lying at his feet, and said, " That is Sir Allan." The 
little fountain, in spite of the lapse of years and the long drought, 
still ran with a stream of pure water. Besides the chapel, there 
had once been on the island a seminary of priests. "Sir Allan," 
writes Johnson, " had a mind to trace the foundations of a college, 
but neither I nor Mr. Boswell, who bends a keener eye on vacancy, 
were able to perceive them." Where they failed we could not hope 
to succeed. We next explored, as they had done, a neighbouring 

"Even Inchkenneth," says Johnson, "has a subordinate island, named Sandi- 
land, I suppose in contempt, where we landed, and found a rock, with a surface of 
perhaps four acres, of which one is naked stone, another spread with sand and 
shells, some of which I picked up for their glossy beauty, and two covered with a 
little earth and grass, on which Sir Allan has a few sheep. I doubt not but when 
there was a college at Inchkenneth, there was a hermitage upon Sandiland." 

The shells, perhaps, he kept to add to the collection of Mrs. Thrale's 
eldest daughter. " I have been able," he wrote later on, " to collect 
very little for Queeney's cabinet." The name which our boatman 
gave to the island was, so far as I could catch it, not Sandiland, 
but Sameilan. At the time of our visit it had for inhabitants four 
sheep, and flocks of sea-birds who made it their breeding ground. 
They flew circling and screaming over our heads, while a mother 
bird led off a late brood of little ones into the sea. Before each of 
the burrows in which they made their nests was a litter of tiny 






shells thrown up like sand before a rabbit-warren. The sun shone 
brightly, the little waves beat on the shore, while all around us 
there were mountains, islands, and lochs. As I picked up a few 
shells, I thought that on this lonely rock, perhaps, none had been 
gathered since the day when they caught Johnson's eye by 


their glossy beauty. In sailing back to the mainland of Mull 
we saw four seals popping up their heads in the water near the 

So pleasant did Johnson find the life in Inchkenneth that he 
remained a day longer than he had intended. " We could have 
been easily persuaded," he writes, " to a longer stay, but life will 
not be all passed in delight. The session at Edinburgh was 

G G 


approaching from which Mr. Boswell could not be absent." On 
the morning of Tuesday, October 19, they started for lona in a 
good strong boat, with four stout rowers under the guidance of the 
chief of the Macleanes. On the shore they took their last farewell 
of poor Col, " who,' wrote Johnson, " had treated us with so much 
kindness, and concluded his favours by consigning us to Sir 
Allan." On the way they visited Mackinnon's Cave, on the 
opposite coast of Mull, the greatest natural curiosity," said 
Johnson, "he had ever seen." He thus describes it in a letter to 
Mrs. Thrale. 

" We had sonic difficulty to make our way over the vast masses of broken rocks 
that lie before the entrance, and at the mouth were embarrassed with stones, which 
the sea had accumulated as at Brighthelmstone ; but as we advanced we reached a 
floor of soft sand, and as we left the light behind us walked along a very spacious 
cavity vaulted overhead with an arch almost regular, by which a mountain was sus- 
tained, at least, a very lofty rock. From this magnificent cavern went a narrow 
passage to the right hand, which we entered with a candle, and though it was 
obstructed with great stones, clambered over them to a second expansion of the 
cave, in which there lies a great square stone, which might serve as a table. The 
cave goes onward to an unknown extent, but we were now one hundred and sixty 
yards underground; we had but one candle, and had never heard of any that went 
further and came back ; we therefore thought it prudent to return." 

" Tradition," according to Boswell, " says that a piper and twelve 
men once advanced into this cave, nobody can tell how far; and 
never returned." It is indeed a wonderful place. As we sat on 
the rocks near the entrance, with the huge cliffs rising sheer above 
us, and the waves breaking at our feet, we could see in the distance 
lona, with its beach of white sand, Staffa with its lofty masses of 
dark rock, Little Colonsay with the waves dashing in foam upon it, 
and on the horizon a coast which we took to be the island of Col. 
Vast masses of rock lay along the beach in huge and wild disorder. 
Beyond the cavern they came to an end ; for there the cliff rose 
from the sea steep as the wall of a house. The cascade near the 
cave, which Boswell mentions, was falling in a very slender stream. 
Hard by a huge crag was covered almost to the top by the fresh 
young leaves of a great ivy-tree. It called up to my memory the 
ivy-mantled ruins of Kenilworth Castle. 

Our travellers, taking boat again, continued their voyage along 
the shore of Mull. " The island of Staffa," writes Boswell, " we 
saw at no very great distance, but could not land upon it, the surge 
was so high on its rocky coast." It is strange that Sir James 
Mackintosh, with this passage before him, should have accused 



Johnson of having visited lona, "without looking at Staffa, which 
lay in sight, with that indifference to natural objects, either of taste 
or scientific curiosity, which characterised him." L As they sailed 
along, " Sir Allan, anxious for the honour of Mull, was still talking 
of its woods, and pointing them out to 1 )r. Johnson, as appearing at a 
distance on the skirts of that island. ' Sir,' he answered, ' I saw at 
Tobermory what they called a wood, which I unluckily took for 
heat It. If you show me what I shall take for fnrzc, it will be 
something.' ' 

They dined at "a cluster of rocks, black and horrid," near to 
which was a public-house where they had hoped to procure some 
rum or brandy for the boatmen ; " but unfortunately a funeral a 
few days before had 

exhausted all their 1~ ' 

store." Smollett in his 
Humphry Clinker, 
tells how a Highland 
gentleman, at his 
funeral, " seemed to 
think it a disparage- 
ment to his family 
that not above a 
hundred gallons of 
whisky had been MULL. 

drunk upon such a 

solemn occasion." 1 The rest of this day's voyage Johnson thus 
finely described in one of his letters : " We then entered the 
boat again ; the night came upon us : the wind rose ; the sea 
swelled. We passed by several little islands in the silent solemnity 
of faint moonshine, seeing little, and hearing only the wind and 
the water. At last we reached the island ; the venerable seat of 
ancient sanctity, where secret piety reposed, and where fallen 
greatness was reposited." Boswell adds that as they "sailed along 
by moonlight in a sea somewhat rough, and often between black 
and gloomy rocks, Dr. Johnson said, ' If this be not roving among 
the Hebrides nothing is.'" 

lona, which of old belonged to the Macleanes, in their recent 
embarassments had been sold to the Duke of Argyle. Though 

1 Lift of Sir James Mackintosh, ii. 257. 

2 Humphry Clinker, iii. 27. 


the tic of property was broken yet the feeling of clanship remained 
entire. " \Vhatever was in the island," writes Johnson, " Sir Allan 
could demand, for the inhabitants were Macleanes ; but having 
little they could not give us much." A curious scene described 
by Bos well bears witness to the strength of the devotion of these 
poor people. 

" Sir Allan had been told that a man had refused to send him some rum, at which 
the knight was in great indignation. 'You rascal! (said he,) don't you know that I 
can hang you, if I please?' Not adverting to the Chieftain's power over his clan, I 
imagined that Sir Allan had known of some capital crime that the fellow had com- 
mitted, which he could discover, and so get him condemned ; and said, ' How so?" 
' Why, (said Sir Allan,) are they not all my people ? ' Sensible of my inadvertency, 
and most willing to contribute what I could towards the continuation of feudal 
authority, ' Very true,' said I. Sir Allan went on : ' Refuse to send rum to me, you 
rascal ! Don't you know that, if I order you to go and cut a man's throat, you are 
to do it ?' ' Yes, an't please your honour ! and my own too, and hang myself too.' 
The poor fellow denied that he had refused to send the rum. His making these 
professions was not merely a pretence in presence of his Chief; for after he and I 
were out of Sir Allan's hearing, he told me, ' Had he sent his dog for the rum, I 
would have given it : I would cut my bones for him.' It was very remarkable to 
find such an attachment to a Chief, though he had then no connection with the 
island, and had not been there for fourteen years. Sir Allan, by way of upbraiding 
the fellow, said, ' I believe you are a Campbell! " 

The memory of the power so lately exercised throughout the 
Highlands by the chiefs was not soon forgotten. It was noticed 
so late as 1793, that in Scotland master was still, for the most part, 
the term used for landlord. As an instance of this it was mentioned 
that in a sermon preached in the High Church of Edinburgh in 
1788, the minister thus described the late Earl of Kinnoul in rela- 
tion to his tenants. 1 Even after the abolition of the jurisdictions 
of the chiefs the powers left in the hands of the justices were very 
great. " An inferior judge in Scotland," wrote the historian of 
Edinburgh in the year 1779, "makes nothing of sentencing a man 
to whipping, pillory, banishment from the limits of his jurisdiction, 
and such other trifling punishments, without the idle formality of a 

In lona, however, there was no need of threats. The poor 
people were devoted to their former chief. " He went," says 
Johnson, "to the headman of the island whom fame, but fame 
delights in amplifying, represents as worth no less than fifty pounds. 
He was, perhaps, proud enough of his guests, but ill prepared for 

1 J. L. Buchanan, Travels in the Western Highlands from 1782 to 1790, p. 5. 

2 History of Edinburgh, p. 445. 


our entertainment ; however, he soon produced more provision than 
men not luxurious required." There was not a single house in 
which, with any comfort, they could have been lodged. Pennant, 
who had been there a year earlier, " had pitched a rude tent formed 
of oars and sails." There was but one house which had a chimney. 
" Nevertheless, even in this," says Johnson, " the fire was made on 
the floor in the middle of the room, and notwithstanding the 
dignity of their mansion the inmates rejoiced like their neighbours 
in the comforts of smoke." Though the soil was naturally fruitful, 
yet the poverty of the people was great. " They are," he adds, 
" remarkably gross and remarkably neglected ; I know not if they 
are visited by any minister. The island, which was once the 
metropolis of learning and piety, has now no school for education 
nor temple for worship, only two inhabitants that can speak 
English, and not one that can write or read." The population was 
probably not less than four hundred souls. 1 Sacheverell, who was 
there in 1688, mentions a class of " hereditary servants. They are," 
he adds, " miserably poor. They seem an innocent, simple people, 
ignorant and devout ; and though they have no minister, they 
constantly assemble in the great church on Sundays, where they 
spend most part of the day in private devotions." ! According to 
Pennant they were " the most stupid and the most lazy of all the 
islanders." " They used," he says, " the Chapel of the Nunnery as 
a cow-shed ; the floor was covered some feet thick with dung, for 
they were too lazy to remove this fine manure, the collection of a 
century, to enrich their grounds." : Hoswell, however, gives a 
much better report. " They are industrious," he says, " and make 
their own woollen and linen cloth ; and they brew a good deal of 
beer, which we did not find in any of the other islands." In July, 
1798, Dr. Garnett and his companion, Mr. Watts, the painter, 
passed a night in the public-house. The floor of their chamber 
was liquid mud ; the rain fell on their beds. For fellow-lodgers 
they had several chickens, a tame lamb, a dog, some cats, and two 
or three pigs. Next morning they invited the schoolmaster to 
breakfast, and found that the inn could boast of only two tea-cups 
and one spoon, and that of wood.' Sir Walter Scott, who visited 
lona in 1810 mentions "the squalid and dejected poverty of the 

1 See Johnson's Works, ix. 149. IVnnanl, - An Account of the Isle ef Man, f. 136. 

however, gives the number of inhabitants as :l 1'ennant's '/'our, ed. 1774, pp. 243, 246. 

only one hundred and fifty. Pennant's Tour, ' T. Garnett's Observations, &<:., i. 244, 265. 
ed. 1774, p. 243. 


inhabitantsthe most wretched people he had anywhere seen." ' 
With such houses and such people Sir Allan Macleane certainly 
did wisely in choosing a barn for the lodgings of himself and his two 
friends. " Some good hay," writes Boswell, " was strewed at one 
end of it, to form a bed for us, upon which we lay with our clothes 
on ; and we were furnished with blankets from the village. Each 
of us had a portmanteau for a pillow. When I awaked in the 
morning, and looked round me, I could not help smiling at the 
idea of the chief of the Macleanes, the great English Moralist, 
and myself, lying thus extended in such a situation." 

The smile might have passed into a sigh, had Boswell contrasted 
the splendours of lona's past with the meanness of her present lot. 

They had come to 

" Where, beneath the showery west, 
The mighty kings of three fair realms arc laid." 

Like the pilgrim 

" From the Blue Mountains, or Ontario's Lake," 
amidst the ruins of fallen greatness and fallen learning they had 


" Some peasant's homely shed, 
Who toils unconscious of the mighty dead." 

Whether with Johnson among " those illustrious ruins," we 
look upon lona as the instructress of the west, or with Gibbon as 
the island whence was " diffused over the northern regions a doubt- 
ful ray of science and superstition," in either case it is surely 
a spot where we are forced to pause, and with pensive mind 
"revolve the sad vicissitude of things." I must not, however, be 
unjust to Boswell. It was his enthusiasm which had led them 
hither. It was he who had longed to survey lona. " I," said 
Johnson, "though less eager did not oppose him." To him then 
we owe that splendid passage in which the great Englishman 
celebrates the power exerted over the mind by the sight of places 
where noble deeds were done, and noble lives were lived. 

" We were now treading that illustrious Island, which was once the luminary of 
the Caledonian regions, whence savage clans and roving barbarians derived the 
benefits of knowledge, and the blessings of religion. To abstract the mind from all 
local emotion would be impossible, if it were endeavoured, and would be foolish if 
it were possible. Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses, whatever 
makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us 
in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid 

1 Lockhait's Life of Scott, iii. 285; iv. 324. 



philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has 
been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, 
whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety 
would not grow warmer among the ruins of lona ! " 

Boswell surely not without good reason maintains that " had 
their tour produced nothing else but this sublime passage the 
world must have acknowledged that it was not made in vain." 


(OCTOBER 20-22). 

Sailing from lona about midday on Wednesday, October 20, 
our travellers landed in the evening on the southern coast of Mull, 
near the house of the Rev. Neal Macleod, who gave them lodgings 
for the night. Johnson oddly described him as " the cleanest- 
headed man that he had met with in the Western Islands." The 
talk ran on English statesmen. Here it was that Johnson called 
Mr. Pitt a meteor, and Sir Robert Walpole a fixed star, and main- 


tained that Pultenev was <is paltry a fellow as could be. Continuing 

j 1 J O 

their journey on the morrow, they dined at the house of a physician, 
" who was so much struck with the uncommon conversation of 
Johnson, that he observed to Boswell, ' I his man is just a hogs- 
head of sense.' " This doctor's practice could scarcely have been 
very lucrative, for there came a time when he hail no successor. 
Garnett writing of Mull at the end of the century, says, " There is 
at present no medical man in the island ; the nearest surgeon of 
eminence is at Inverary." 1 The distance from that town to the 


farthest points in Mull, as the crow flies, is not less than sixty miles, 
but by the route taken would be perhaps one hundred. In the 
afternoon our travellers rode, writes Boswell, " through what 
appeared to me the most gloomy and desolate country I had ever 
beheld." "It was," said Johnson, "a country of such gloomy 
desolation that Mr. Boswell thought no part of the Highlands 
equally terrific." Faujas Saint-Fond, a few years later, describes 
Mull as a country " without a single road, without a single tree, 
where the mountains have heather for their only covering." 2 
Amidst the beautiful plantations and the fine trees with which this 

Dr. T. Garnett's Observations, i2rr. , i. 148. 

c ni AngU-tcrre, &<:., ii. 86. 







island is now in so many parts adorned, the modern tourist fails to 

recognize the truthfulness of these gloomy descriptions. Our 

travellers were to spend the night at Moy, the seat of the Laird of 

Lochbuy, 1 at the head of the fine loch from which he takes his title. 

I approached it from the north-eastern side of the island, having 

driven over from Craignure, a little port in the Sound of Mull. 

Perhaps the country through which I passed was naturally finer 

than that which they had traversed in coming from the south-west. 

Perhaps, on the other hand, the difference was chiefly due to the 

trees and to better weather. Certainly the long drive, though in 

places dreary, was for a great part of the road on a bright, windy 

summer day, one of remarkable beauty. I passed lochs of the sea 

with the waves tossing, the sea-fowl hovering and settling and 

screaming, great herons standing on the shore, and the sea- trout 

leaping in the waters. But far more beautiful was Loch Disk, an 

inland lake embosomed among the mountains, its steep shores covered 

with trees. The strong wind was driving the scud like dust over the 

face of its dark waters. As I drew near Lochbuy, I caught 

sight of the ivy-mantled tower across a meadow, where the mowers 

were cutting the grass, and the hay-makers were tossing it out to 

the sun and wind. Beyond the castle there was a broad stretch of 

white sand ; a small vessel lay at anchor, ready at the next tide to 

run ashore and discharge the hamlet's winter stock of coal. Tall 

trunks of fir-trees were lying near the water's edge ready for 

shipping. At the head of the loch are two beautiful bays, each 

with its pastures and tilled lands, its low-wooded heights and its 

lofty circling mountains, each facing the south-west and sheltered 

from the cold winds. Between these two bays rise fine crags, 

hidden in places beneath hazels and ivy. For most of the year it 

is a land streaming with waterfalls. In beautiful ravines, half 

hidden by the trees, wild cascades rush down, swollen by the storms 

that have burst on the mountains ; but at the time of my visit their 

voice was hushed by the long drought. So dry had the springs 

become in some places, that I was told at Lochbuy that to one of 

the neighbouring islands water had to be carried in boats. 

Close to the ruined Castle stood " the mansion, not very 
spacious or splendid," where Macleane of Lochbuy, " a true 'High- 
land laird, rough and haughty, and tenacious of his dignity," 
entertained our travellers. 

1 The name is now commonly written Lochbuie. 
H H 


" \Ve had heard much," writes Boswell, "of Lochbuy's being a great roaring 
braggadocio, a kind of Sir John Kalstaff, both in si/.e and manners; but we found 
that they had swelled him up to a fictitious sue, and clothed him with imaginary 
qualities. Col's idea of him was equally extravagant, though very different: he told 
us he was quite a Don Quixote; and said, he would give a great deal to see him 
and Dr. Johnson together. The truth is, that Lochbuy proved to be only a. bluff, 
comely, noisy, old gentleman, proud of his hereditary consequence, and a very 
hearty and hospitable landlord. Lady Lochbuy was sister to Sir Allan Macleane, 
but much older. He said to me, 'They are quite Antediluvians.' Being told that 
Dr. Johnson did not hear well, Lochbuy bawled out to him, 'Are you of the 
Johnstons of Glencro, or of Ardnamurchan? ' Dr. Johnson gave him a significant 
look, but made no answer; and I told Lochbuy that he was not Johns/cw, but 
Johnttw, and that he was an Englishman." ! 

According to Sir Walter Scott, Boswell misapprehended Loch- 
buy's meaning. 

"There are," he says, "two septs of the powerful clan of M'Donald, who are 
called Mac-Ian, that isjohn's-son; and as Highlanders often translate their names 
when they go to the Lowlands, --as Gregor-son for Mac-Gregor, Farquhar-son for 
Mac-Farquhar, Lochbuy supposed that Dr. Johnson might be one of the Mac-Ians 
of Ardnamurchan, or of Glencro. Boswell's explanation was nothing to the purpose. 
The Johnstons are a clan distinguished in Scottish border history, and as brave as 
any Highland clan that ever wore brogues; but they lay entirely out of Lochbuy's 
knowledge nor was he thinking of them." 

I have little doubt, however, that whatever Lochbuy was 
thinking of he pronounced the name Johnston. In this both 
Boswell and Johnson agree. This too was the name which I 
commonly found given to the great man in the Highlands and 
Lowlands alike. 

" The following day (writes Boswell) we surveyed the old castle, in the pit or 
dungeon of which Lochbuy had some years before taken upon him to imprison 
several persons ; and though he had been fined in a considerable sum by the Court 
of Justiciary, he was so little affected by it, that while we were examining the 
dungeon, he said to me, with a smile, ' Your father knows something of this ; ' 
(alluding to my father's having sat as one of the judges on his trial). Sir Allan 
whispered me, that the laird could not be persuaded that he had lost his heritable 

Up to the year 1747 " in the Highlands," to quote Johnson's 
words, "some great lords had an hereditary jurisdiction over 
counties, and some chieftains over their own lands." This subjection 
of the people to their chiefs was rightly regarded as one of the main 
sources of the rebellions of 1715 and 1745. He who by law was 
privileged to keep a pit, a dungeon, and a gallows, was not likely 
to meet with much resistance when he summoned his people to 
follow him to the field. Advantage was therefore taken of the 

1 See ante, p. 5. 


defeat of the clansmen at Culloden, " to crush all the Local Courts 
and to extend the general benetits of equal law to the low and the 
high, in the deepest recesses and obscurest corners." The heritable 
jurisdiction had been divided into regalities, ordinary baronies, and 
baronies which had the right of pit and gallows. 

"The lowest criminal jurisdiction," says a Scotch legal author, "is what we call 
for Battery and Bloodwits, viz., Offences whereby a party is beaten, or blood drawn 
of him, but no greater harm done ; and this is implied in all Baronies. But if the 
erection of the Barony contain a power of Pit and Gallows, it imports a jurisdiction 
in ordinary capital cases, but not in the excepted crimes, which go under the name 
of the Four Pleas of tlie Croit'n, vis., Murder, Robbery, Rape, and wilful Fire- 
raising. It is so called from the manner of execution of criminals, viz., by hanging 
the men upon the Gallows or Gibbet, and drowning the women, sentenced in a 
capital crime, in a pit, it not being thought decent of old to hang them." ' 

In old law Latin this right was known under the name of 
furca et fossa. 2 A person invested with the jurisdiction of a 
regality had power also in the Four Pleas of the Crown. " The 
sentences in civil cases are subject to the review of the Lords of 
Session, and in criminal to the Court of Justiciary. In criminal 
trials thirty days were allowed before execution of the sentence on 
this [the southern] side of the Forth, and forty on the other." 
From this appeal there was one regality which was exempt. The 
jurisdiction of the Duke of Argyle was absolute even in cases of 
life and death. From his sentences there was no appeal.' 1 Each 
barony had its Gallows Hill, and its dempster or hangman. 4 
Pennant, in 1772, saw "on a little flat hill near the village of 
Kilarow in Islay the remains of the gallows."' At Dunvegan men 
had been hanged on the sentence of the laird, so late as 1 740. 
No doubt this power was sometimes most oppressively exercised. 
A chief who lived near Inverness was charged with having rid 
himself at a profit of men on his estate who had given him trouble. 
He charged them with theft, threatened them with the gallows, 
and so brought them "to sign a contract for their banishment." 
They were then put on board a ship bound to the West Indies, 
"the master paying so much a head for them.'" In other words, 

1 An Essay upon Feudal Holdings, Superior!- 3 An Essay upon Feudal Holdings, &v., pp. 

lies, and Hereditary Jurisdictions in Scotland. 18, 28. 

London, 1747, p. 16. ' Duiibar's Social Life, &*c., ii. 141. 

* " Baro dicitur qui gladii potestatem habet, 5 Pennant's Voyage to the Hebrides, *&, i?74> 

id est imperium merum ; apud nos furca; et p. 221. 

fossae nomine significamus." Craig, De Feudis, Letters from a Gentleman in the North of 

i. 12, 1 6, quoted in Arnot's History of Edin- Scotland, i. 54- 
burgh, p. 224. 


they were sold for slaves, if not for life, at all events for a certain 
number of years. 

No chancre had been made by the Act of Union of 1706, for it 

o * 

was expressly provided in it that all these heritable jurisdictions 
"should be reserved to the owners as rights and property." When 
in i 747 these powers had been swept away, two unhappy classes of 
men were excepted from the full benefit of the Act. The workers in 
any kind of mine: or in salt-works were to remain as they had 
hitherto been serfs for life. These men were found only in the 
Lowlands, chiefly in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. Neverthe- 
less, even they were not left altogether without relief. " All 
jurisdiction in any case inferring the loss of life or demembration, 
was abrogated." : A collier or a salter therefore could no longer 
be hanged or drowned, or even mangled by his master. It was 
not till the last year of the century that they were finally and 
fully freed. One of these emancipated serfs lived till the year 

The Act of 1747 not only abolished jurisdictions, but also 

alleviated the prisoner's lot. Till it was passed, "all over Scotland 

pits were accounted legal prisons for thieves and other meaner 

criminals."' Lady Margaret Bellenden in Old Mortality praises 

her pit. " It is not more than two stories beneath ground," she 

says, " so it cannot be unwholesome, especially as I rather believe 

there is somewhere an opening to the outer air."' But henceforth 

so the Act ran "the prison shall have such windows or grates, 

as that it may be practicable for any friend of the prisoner to visit, 

see, and converse with him when he shall be so minded." In out 

of the way places, where there were no justices within reach, the 

laird, no doubt, to some extent, continued to exercise his old 

powers. Thus in Col, more than sixteen years after the Act was 

passed, the laird put a woman into " the family prison " for theft. 7 

There have been men who regarded, or affected to regard with 

indignation the abolition of these injurious hereditary powers. 

" By the nation at large," writes Dr. Robert Chambers, " the 

measure was contemplated as a last stab to the independence of 

Scotland, previously almost destroyed by the Union."' There is 

1 Smollett's History of England, ii. 79. 5 Old Mortality, eel. 1860, ii. 14. 

2 An Act for Abolishing the Heritable fun's- c An Act for Abolishing, &t., p. 17. 
dictions, 1747, p. 19. 7 Boswell'sy0/;.K>H, v. 292. 

3 Boswell's_/0//r0H, iii. 202, n. \. * History of the Rebellion in Scotland, ed. 
* Scotland and Scotsmen, iS-v., 11.94. '827, ii. 293. 


happily no reason to believe that the nation at large was at any 
period of its history a set of sentimental fools. 

To most of the chiefs this loss of their ancient jurisdictions 
must have come as a terrible shock. Lochbuy, as has been seen, 
had refused to believe it, and so had got into trouble with the 
Court of Justiciary. After some search I was fortunate enough to 
discover a report of his case. He had, as I was informed by his 
descendant, the present laird, with the help of his piper let down a 
man into the pit. But here, for once, tradition has not been guilty 
of amplification. Aided by his servant, his piper and son, the inn- 
keeper in Moy, and two other tenants, he had seized two men of 
the name of Maclean, and had imprisoned them two days " in an 
old ruinous castle." Two of the accused did not appear to the 
indictment, " they were therefore fugitated (outlawed), and their 
moveables escheated to the king for their contempt." The trial 
took place on August 15, 1759. It lasted twelve hours. "The 
jury (of which a majority was landed gentlemen) returned their 
verdict unanimously, finding the pannels (prisoners at the bar) 
guilty ; but verbally recommending the four servants and tenants 
to the mercy of the court, it appearing that what they did was by 
order of Lochbuy, their master. The lords pronounced sentence, 
decerning Lochbuy in .180 sterling of expenses and damages to 
the private prosecutors, and 500 marks Scots (about ^27) of 
fine ; and condemning the whole pannels to seventeen clays' im- 
prisonment." ' 

Lochbuy had no doubt been the more unwilling to believe in the 
abolition of his jurisdiction as he had, it should seem, no share in 
that "valuable consideration in money which was granted to every 
nobleman and petty baron who was thus deprived of one part of 
his inheritance." ' On what principle of justice this compensation 
was given is not clear, unless we agree with Johnson in his asser- 
tion that " those who have long enjoyed dignity and power ought 
not to lose it without some equivalent." 3 Professor Thorold 
Rogers informs me that we have here, he believes, the first 
instance in our history where compensation is paid by the country 
at large for the vested interests of a class. The claims which were 
made were excessive, partly no doubt in the hope that when much 
was demanded at all events something would be given, but partly, 

1 Scots Magazine, 1759, p. 441. 2 Smollett's History of England, in. 206. 

3 Johnson's \Vorks, ix. 91. 


it was said, with the intention of " obstructing the Act, and raising 
discontents in the country." The total sum asked for was 
.587,000, but only ,152,000 was granted. Among the claimants 
I found " Maclean of Lochbuie, Bailie of the Bailiery of Morovis 
and Mulerois, .500." His name does not appear among the list 
of those whose claims were allowed. 2 

Though in i 759 the castle was described as ruinous, neverthe- 
less it had been inhabited by the laird a few years earlier. Over 
the entrance of the house in which he received Johnson is in- 
scribed : " Hxc clomus [a word effaced] erat per Johannem M'Laine 
De Lochbuy Anno Dom. 1752." It has, in its turn, given way to 
a more modern mansion, and has been converted into stables, 
coach-houses, and hay-lofts. The castle was built on the edge of 
the sea, " four-square to all the winds that blew." The walls, nine 
or ten feet thick, " are probably as old as the fourteenth century, but 
the upper part seems to have been modified in the seventeenth." 3 
The ivy has climbed up to the top, nevertheless much of the stone- 
work is still seen. It would be a pity if it were suffered to cover 
the walls on all sides. Hard by a little stream shaded with trees 
makes its way into the loch. To the north-west rises the steep 
hill of Dun Buy. " Buy in Erse," says Boswell, " signifies yellow. 
The hill being of a yellowish hue, has the epithet of buy." This 
hue I altogether failed to discover; perhaps it is only seen in the 
autumn. On the bright summer's day in which I saw the castle, it 
seemed to be almost unsurpassed in the pleasantness of its seat. 
Tall trees grew near it, their leaves rustling in the wind, and the 
lights and shadows dancing on the ground as the branches swayed 
to and fro, while in front lay the loch with its foaming waves. The 
old ruin looked as if it had been set there to add to the beauty of 
the scene, not for a place where lairds and their pipers should let 
down luckless folk into dismal pits. In the inside there was gloom 
enough. A few well-worn stone steps lead up to the entrance. 
The strong old door studded with iron nails which had withstood 
the storms of many a long year, has at length yielded to time, and 
been replaced. Behind it is an iron grate secured by bolts and by 
an oaken bar that is drawn forth from a hole in the wall. Passing 
on I went into a gloomy vault known as the store-room. Not a 

' Marchmont Papers, \. 234, 248. 3 Macgibbon and Ross's Architecture of Scot- 

' 2 Scots Magazine, 1747, p. 587, and 1748, p. land, iii. 127. 


ray of light entered save by the open door. In the rocky floor 
there is a shallow well, which in the driest seasons is always full 
of water. The arched roof is built of huge boulders gathered from 
the beach, the spaces between being filled up with thin layers of 
stone after the fashion of Roman masonry. A dark staircase in 
the thickness of the wall leads up through another strong door to a 
second vaulted chamber, dimly lighted by narrow slits at the end 
of two slanting recesses, on each side of which are stone benches. 
This I was told was the court-room or judgment-hall. Opening 
out of it on one side is a very small chamber, in which was a kind 
of cupboard, a hiding-place perhaps for title-deeds and plate, for it 
could be so closed with stones as to look like solid wall. On the 
other side is the door to the dungeon, dismal enough, but not so 
dismal as the pit below, with its well in which women could be 
put to death with decency. On either side of the mouth of the 
well is a narrow ledge some eighteen inches wide, but not long 
enough to allow the prisoner to stretch himself at full length. On 
the floor above the court-room was the kitchen, with walls more 
than seven feet thick. It occupied the whole of the story. On 
the freestone joints of the great hearth can be seen the deep 
marks made by sharpening knives. Above the kitchen was the 
family sitting-room, which was entered from a gallery running all 
round it outside, and built in the overhanging part of the tower. 
Here at length I arrived at what may be called the front door. 
There was some attempt at ornament in the carving on the stones 
at the top and each side of the doorway. There was, moreover, 
light enough to see it clearly, for the gallery can boast of fair-sized 
windows. From one of them the laird could look out on the 
Hangman's Hill, about a third of a mile off, now covered with fir- 
trees, but then bare. Some stones remain, in which the gallows 
were set up. The view from the castle, except when a hanging 
was going on, must on a fine day have been always beautiful, even 
when the country was bare of trees. To the north and east they 
looked over fields, once yellow every autumn with grain, but now 
pleasant meadow-land, shut in with hills and mountains down 
whose sides in rainy weather rivers stream and cascades leap. 
From one corner of the gallery a turret projects with two narrow 
windows, where the watchman could see anyone approaching from 
the side of the land. Not far from it was "the whispering hole," 
where, by removing a stone which exactly fits into an opening, a 


suspicious laird could overhear the talk in the kitchen beneath. 
Above the sitting-room was another story divided into small rooms, 
the bed-chamber of the family. So solidly had the roof been built, 
that unrepaired it withstood all the blasts of heaven, till that 
terrible storm burst upon it and brought it clown, which swept 
away the Tay Bridge. 

In these two upper stories there were, no doubt, cheerful rooms, 
but they were reached through gloomy doors and iron grates, UD 
dark staircases, with rough sides and well-worn steps, past the 
gloomy dungeon. Everything shows signs of danger and alarm. 
" It was sufficient for a Laird of the Hebrides," as Johnson says, 
" if he had a strong house in which he could hide his wife and 
children from the next clan." At the present day, as I was told 
by my guide, no one thinks of locking his door at night-time. My 
bag and great-coat and travelling rug were left in perfect safety 
for a couple of hours by the road-side while I wandered about. Of 
the modern mansion Johnson would never have said what he said 
of the second house, that " it was built with little regard to con- 
venience, and with none to elegance or pleasure." He would have 
been delighted not only with it, but with its large garden full of 
flowers and vegetables and fruits that testify to the mildness of the 
climate. The peaches ripen on the walls, though they do not 
attain to a large size. The hot-houses were full of choice plants, 
and clustering grapes. One bunch, I was told, had weighed 
nearly five pounds. But there are far greater changes than those 
worked by builders and gardeners. Here, where the rough old 
Laird in his out-of-the-way corner of the world used to rule his 
people with the help of gallows, pit and dungeon, I found a 
money-order office, a savings bank, a telegraph office, and a daily 
post. There is a good school, governed by a School Board, and a 
large reading room where the dulness of the long winter nights is 
relieved by various kinds of entertainments. There is besides an 
infirmary under the management of a qualified nurse, the daughter 
of a medical man, who has learnt her art by some years' study in a 
hospital. She is provided with a chest of surgical instruments and 
a large stock of drugs. On her little pony she sometimes has to 
attend sick people at a distance of eight miles. Forty-three cases 
of measles had lately been under her care and none of them ended 
fatally. There is a salmon-hatching house, and a museum both of 
antiquities and natural curiosities. In it I saw a thumbscrew, with an 


iron ring at one end through which a thong could be passed. Used in 
this way it would have served much the same purpose as hand-cuffs. 
I looked with interest on an old Highland spinning-wheel, the gift 
of my intelligent and friendly guide, Mr. Angus Black. It had 
belonged to his grandmother. He had given it, he said, "to be 
kept there as a present for ages and generations to come." When 
a little before I drank water from " the well by the river side," 
such was the name of the spring in Gaelic, he told me that it was 
the spring " whence the Lairds had drunk for ages and generations 
past." One thing I in vain looked for in the Museum. Boswell 
had been told much of a war-saddle, on which Lochbtiy, " that 
reputed Don Quixote, used to be mounted ; but we did not see it," 
he adds, " for the young Laird had applied it to a less noble pur- 
pose, having taken it to Falkirk Fair with a drove of black cattle'' 
He took it much farther to America, whither he went with his 
regiment. There he lost his life in a duel, and it was lost too. 
Perhaps it is preserved as a curiosity in some collection on the 
other side of the Atlantic. 

I was shown also at a short distance eastwards from the Castle, at 
the bottom of a crag by the roadside, a place known as the Cheese 
Cave. Here at every funeral the refreshments used to be placed 
for the mourners, who had often come twenty miles across the 
hills. In former days, when there were more men and fewer sheep 
some hundreds would assemble. " Two old respectable friends 
were left behind to take care of the food and drink. When the 
people came back from the grave-yard they refreshed themselves. 
I have seen them," continued my guide, " sitting on these rocks by 
the cave having their luncheon." Ramsay of Ochtertyre tells how 
" the women of each valley through which the funeral passed 
joined in the procession, but they attended but part of the way 
and then returned. The whole company seemed to be running ; 
and wherever they rested small cairns or heaps of stones were 
raised to commemorate the corpse having halted on that spot." ' 
These heaps were pointed out to us on the side of Rattachan as 
we drove down to Glenelg. The silence of the Scotch funeral 
shocked Wesley, who recorded on May 20, 1774 : "When I see 
in Scotland a coffin put into the earth and covered up without a 
word spoken, it reminds me of what was spoken concerning Je- 
hoiakin, ' He shall be buried with the burial of an ass.' " 

1 Scotland and Scotsmen, &(., ii. 430. * Wesley's Journal, iv. 14. 

I I 


It is not with accounts of funerals that I must take my 
leave of a place where I spent so pleasant a day, and had so 
hospitable a reception. Here I saw not only the dead past but a 
vigorous and hopeful present. Even the old Laird, we are told, 
" was a very hearty and hospitable landlord, ' though with his 
belief in his rights of furca cl fossa he certainly was an ante- 
diluvian. His descendant does not yield to him in heartiness and 
hospitality, but has other ways of guiding his people than gallows, 
pit and dungeon. By his schools, his reading-room, his infirmary 
and his schemes for developing the fisheries he has won their 
affections. An old lady who had been allowed to visit the Castle, 
meeting him by chance as she came out, full of anger at what she 
had seen, exclaimed : " You ought, Sir, to be ashamed of your 
ancestors." " No," he replied, " I am not ashamed of them. They 
led their lives, and I lead mine." They were at all events as good 
as the men of their time, perhaps better. Old Lochbuy does not 
seem to have been a bad fellow, though he was slow in learning 
that he had lost his right to imprison his tenants. " May not a 
man do what he likes with his own ?" we can fancy him asking in 
the words used more than seventy years later by an English duke. 
Much as his descendant has done, there is one thing more which I 
would ask him to do. He dreads, no doubt, the throng of noisy 
tourists, but he might surely build a modest inn where the pensive 
wanderer could find lodging, and enjoy the scenery of Lochbuy. 

" The guiltless eye 
Commits no wrong, nor wastes what it enjoys." 


On the morning of Friday, October 22, our travellers set out 
for the ferry by which they were to cross to Oban a distance of 
about twelve miles. According to Dr. Garnett, travellers were 
conveyed first to Kerrera, an island lying off the mainland. Crossing 
this on foot or horseback they found awaiting them another boat to 
take them to Oban. At Auchnacraig in Mull there was an inn 
about half a mile from the ferry. Here he and his companion could 
procure, he says, neither oats for their horses nor straw for their 
litter. They wanted to give them a mess of oatmeal and water, but 
the woman, who acted as hostler, at first refused, " asking whether 



it was proper to give the food of Christians to horses." After 
a long dispute she yielded. " In these islands," he adds, " horses 
seldom taste oats." 1 "The bottom of the ferry-boat," says Boswell, 
" was strewed with branches of trees or bushes upon which we sat. 
We had a good day and a fine passage, and in the evening landed 
at Oban, where we found a tolerable inn." This place, which 
I have seen recommended to cockney tourists in huge advertise- 
ments as The Charing Cross of the North, was then a little hamlet. 
In 1786 Knox found "about twenty families collected together 
with a view to the fisheries." It boasted of a custom-house and a 


post-office. In the islands no customs were paid, for there was no 
officer to demand them.'' Faujas Saint-Fond gives a curious 
account of his stay in the inn, a few years after Johnson's visit. He 
would have got on very well, for the food though simple was good, 
and his bed though hard was clean, had it not been for a performer 
on the bag-pipes " un maudit joueur de cornemuse " who played 
" une musique d'un genre nouveau, mais bien terrible pour mon 
oreille." The day of their arrival this man had strutted up and 
down before the inn with haughty and warlike looks, and had stunned 
them with his airs. " Nous crumes d'aborcl que ce personnage etait 
une espece d'insense qui gagnait sa vie a ce metier." They were 
informed that he was an accomplished musician, " de 1'ecole 

T. Garnctt's Observations, &-'(., i. 145. 

J Johnson's Works, ix. 52. 

- Knox's Tour, p. 44. 



ixc" and that in this display of his talents he was shewing 
the joy which IK: felt on seeing strangers in a place where they 
came so rarely. Touched by his friendly sentiments Saint-Fond 
had not only applauded him, but had even pressed on him " quelques 
shelings," which he accepted, it almost seemed, merely out of com- 
plaisance. Taking pity on the stranger's solitude he came and 
played under his bed-room window in the silence of the night. It 
was all in vain that Saint- Fond rose, went out of doors, took him by 
the hand and led him away. " II revint au meme moment, me 
donnant a entendre qu'il n'ctait point fatigue, et qu'il jouerait toute 
la unit pour me plaire, et il tint parole." 

The: bagpiper was surely the direct ancestor of those bands of 
musicians who at Oban distress the peaceful tourist. But there 

are things worse even than 
musicians. How melan- 
choly is the change which 
has come over the whole 
scene in the last quarter of 
a century ! A beautiful bay 
ruined by man ! That it 
should become thronged 
was inevitable ; it need not 
have been made vulgar. It 
was on no scene of over- 
grown hotels that Johnson 
looked, as, with the tear 

starting in his eye, he repeated those fine lines in which Goldsmith 
describes the character of the British nation : 

" Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state, 

With daring aims irregularly great, 

Pride in their port, defiance in their eye, 

1 see the lords of humankind pass by, 

Intent on high designs, a thoughtful band, 

My forms unfashion'd, fresh from Nature's hand; 

Fierce in their native hardiness of soul, 

True to imagin'd right, above control, 

While e'en the peasant boasts these rights to scan, 

And learns to venerate himself as man." 

The Traveller had formed the subject of their talk at breakfast, 
and it was while Boswell helped Johnson on with his great-coat that 


Voyage en Anglctcrre, &c. , i. 369-373. 

^ c 

2 o 


X c 

O ffi 

^ < 





he recited these lines. They had a long ride before them through 
heavy rain to Inverary. Loch Awe they crossed by the ferry 
at Portsonachan " a pretty wide lake," as Boswell describes it, not 
knowing its name. Towards evening they came to a good road 
made by the soldiers, the first which they had seen since they left 
Fort Augustus more than seven weeks before. Unwearied by his 
long journey, Johnson that same night wrote a letter to Mrs. 
Thrale in which he thus describes both what he saw and what he 

" About ten miles of this day's journey were uncommonly amusing. We travelled 
with very little light in a storm of wind and rain ; we passed about fifty-five streams 
that crossed our way, and fell into a river that, for a very great part of our road 
foamed and roared beside us. All the rougher powers of nature, except thunder, 
were in motion, but there was no danger. I should have been sorry to have missed 
any of the inconveniences, to have had more light or less rain, for their co-operation 
crowded the scene and filled the mind." 

When an old man describes such a journey as " uncommonly 
amusing" it is clear that he uses the term in a sense which it does 
not bear at present. In his Dictionary he defines amuse, "to 
entertain with tranquillity ; to fill with thoughts that engage the 
mind without distracting it." The thoughts which this stormy 
evening in late autumn engaged his mind amidst the wilds of 
Argyleshire he put forth in a fine passage when, in the quietness of 
his study, he came to write the account of his journey. 

"The night came on while we had yet a great part of the way to go, though not 
so dark but that we could discern the cataracts which poured down the hills on one 
side, and fell into one general channel, that ran with great violence on the other. 
The wind was loud, the rain was heavy, and the whistling of the blast, the fall of the 
shower, the rush of the cataracts, and the roar of the torrent, made a nobler chorus 
of the rough musick of nature than it had ever been my chance to hear before." 

The man who wrote this noble passage had not surely that 
insensibility to nature which is so often laid to his charge. He was 
sixty-four years old ; mounted on a pony scarcely strong enough to 
bear his weight, he had had a long and hard day's ride through 
wind and rain ; he had dined in his wet clothes in a hut warmed by 
a smoky turf fire, and yet at the end of the day he could say with 
the enthusiasm of a young poet that neither darkness nor storm 
would he willingly have had lessened. He was supported, no doubt, 
in his recollections by the comforts of the inn at Inverary which 
was, he said, " not only commodious, but magnificent." Perhaps he 
was inspired also by the gill of whisky which he called for " the 



first fermented li<iuor," says Boswell, "that he tasted during his 
travels." I le forgets, however, the brandy which he was prevailed 
on to drink at Dunvegan when he was suffering from cold. " Come, 
(said Johnson) let me know what it is that makes a Scotchman 
happy." He thought it preferable to any English malt brandy. 
" What was the process," he writes, " I had no opportunity of 
enquiring, nor do I wish to improve the art of making poison 
pleasant." To the excellence of the inn at Inverary, Pennant also 
bears testimony. Far otherwise does Burns speak of it, in his in- 


dignation at the incivility of the landlord, whose whole attention 
was occupied by the visitors of the Duke of Argyle. 

" Whoe'er he be that sojourns here, 

I pity much his case, 
Unless he comes to wait upon 

The Lord their God his Grace. 

"There's naething here but Highland pride, 

And Highland scab and hunger ; 
If Providence has sent me here, 

Twas surely in an anger." 

At Inverary our travellers rested from Saturday evening till 
Tuesday morning. This pleasant little town had a very different, 
look from that which it now bears. " This place," wrote Pennant, 
" will in time be very magnificent ; but at present the space between 
the front of the castle and the water is disgraced with the old town, 



composed of the most wretched hovels that can be imagined." ' 
These have long been cleared away, so that there is now an un- 
broken view over a finely wooded lawn of the loch and the hills 
beyond. It was in the beginning of September, 1769, that he 
visited the place. " Every evening," he says, " some hundreds of 
boats cover the surface of Loch Fyne. On the week-days the 
cheerful noise of the bag-pipe 
and dance echoes from on 
board ; on the Sabbath each 
boat approaches the land, and 
psalmody and devotion divide 
the day." Our travellers were 
perhaps too late in the year 
to witness this curious scene ; 
at all events they make no 
mention of it. Had they 
heard the psalm-singing on 
the Sunday they would not 
have left it unnoticed. The 
forenoon of that day they 
"passed calmly and placidly." 
Of all the Sundays which I 
passed in Scotland, nowhere 
did I find such an unbroken 
stillness as here. It was far 
quieter than the towns, for the 
people were as still as mice, 
and it was quieter than the 
country, for there was an 
absence of country noises. 
We were alone in our hotel. 

It was the last day of June, but there were scarcely any other 
strangers in the place to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the long 
summer days. 

Boswell hesitated, or affected to hesitate, about calling on the 
Duke of Argyle. " I had reason to think," he writes, "that the 
duchess disliked me on account of my zeal in the Douglas cause ; 
but the duke had always been pleased to treat me with great 
civility." The duchess was that famous beauty, Elizabeth Gunning, 

1 Tour in Scotland, ed. 1774, i. 218. 


2 4 8 


the wife of two dukes and the mother of four. Her sister had 
married the Marl of Coventry. " The two beautiful sisters," says 
1 lorace Walpole, " were going on the stage, when they are at once 
exalted almost as high as they could be, were countessed and double- 
-duchessed." ' The duchess, by her first husband, the Duke of 
Hamilton, was the mother of the unsuccessful competitor for the 
Douglas estates, and was therefore " prejudiced against Boswell, 

who had shown all 
the bustling impor- 
tance of his cha- 
racter in the Douglas 
cause. " : Johnson, 
on hearing the state 
of the case, " was 
clear that Boswell 
ought to pay his re- 
spects at the castle. 
I mentioned," con- 
tinues Boswell, "that 
I was afraid my 
company might be 
disagreeable to the 
duchess. He treated 
the objection with 
a manly disdain, 
' That, Sir, he must 
settle with his wife.' 
He insisted that I 
should not go to 
JOHNSON'S HOST. the castle this day 

before dinner, as it 

would look like seeking an invitation. ' But,' said I, 'if the duke 
invites us to dine with him to-morrow, shall we accept ?' ' Yes, Sir,' 
I think he said, ' to be sure.' But he added, ' He won't ask us.'" 
By the duke, who was sitting over his wine, Boswell was most 
politely received ; but when he was taken into the drawing-room 
and introduced, neither the duchess nor the ladies with her took the 
least notice of him. The following day he and Johnson were 
shown through the castle. "It is a stately place," said Johnson. 

1 Walpole's Letters, ix. 358. 

2 Boswell's Johnson, v. 353, . I. 



" What I admire here is the total defiance of expense." In a 
low one-horse chair our two travellers were driven through "the 
duke's spacious park and rising forests." " I had," writes Boswell, 
"a particular pride in showing Dr. Johnson a great number of fine 
old trees, to compensate for the nakedness which had made such an 
impression on him on the eastern coast of Scotland." Pennant 
noticed pines nine feet, and beeches from nine to twelve feet in 
girth, planted, it was said, by the Earl of Argyle who was beheaded 
in 1685. They have grown to a noble size, and in one part form a 
long avenue, which would grace that English county which takes its 
name from its beech woods. Even in the Black Forest I do not 



know that I have seen larger pines. The planting still goes on. A 
fine young Spanish chestnut boasts in the inscription which it bears 
that in the year 1858 it was planted by Lord Tennyson. "Would," 
I exclaimed as I read the words, " that twin chestnuts of stately 
growth in like manner commemorated the visit of Johnson and 
Boswell." But Johnson's trees are scattered broadcast over Scotland. 
Si momimentuin qufcris, circumspicc. 

The fine collection of arms of which he took much notice still 
adorns the hall. Of the pictures no mention is made by either of 
the travellers, though in more than one they might have recognized 
the work of their friend Sir Joshua. Here is his full-length por- 
trait of the beautiful duchess, " about whom the world had gone 
mad " one-and-twenty years before. When she was presented at 

K K 



Court, " the crowd was so great," writes Horace Walpole, "that 
even the noble mob in the drawing-room clambered upon chairs 
and tables to look at her." As she passed down to Scotland, 
" seven hundred people," it was reported, " sat up all night in and 
about an inn in Yorkshire to see her get into her post-chaise next 
morning." ' Here, too, is a small but lovely picture of her sister, 
the Countess of Coventry. On her going down to her husband's 


country seat near Worcester, " a shoemaker in that town got two 
guineas and a half by showing a shoe that he was making for her 
at a penny a-piece." : In striking contrast with the two sisters are 
many of the portraits which hang on the walls. It is a strange com- 
pany which is brought together : Mary, Queen of Scots, and her 
half-sister, a Countess of Argyle ; Oliver Cromwell ; the Marquis 
of Argyle, and just below him Charles II., who sent him to the 
scaffold ; the earl, his son, who was beheaded by James II. ; and 

Horace Walpolc's Letters, ii. 281, 285. 

- Ib. p. 293. 


John, the great duke, who broke the neck of the rebellion in 1715, 
and rendered desperate the cause of James II.'s son. 

The room in which our travellers dined is much in the state in 
which they saw it ; the walls panelled with the same festoons, and 
the chairs adorned with the same gilding and the same tapestry. 
But it is turned to other uses. No " splendid dinner" is served up 
in it such as Johnson enjoyed and praised ; no " luxuries " such as 


he defended. No Lady Betty Hamilton can quietly take her chair 
after dinner, and lean upon the back of it, as she listens eagerly to 
the great talker, who is unaware that she is just behind him. No 
Boswell can with a steady countenance have the satisfaction for 
once to look a duchess in the face, as with a respectful air he drinks 
to her good health. The tables are covered with books and maga- 
zines, and pamphlets, and correspondence. It is the duke's busi- 
ness-room where he sees his chamberlain, 1 and where his librarian 

1 " I went to renew my lease, but my Lord's Chamberlain was not at home. Steward. The 


receives ami sorts the new publications which are ever coming in, 
before he transfers them to the shelves of the library. 

The noble drawing-room remains unchanged -the gilded ceiling, 
the old French tapestry covering the walls, the gilt tapestry chairs, 
the oaken floor, up and clown which the duke and Boswell walked 
conversing, while her grace made Dr. Johnson come and sit by her. 
All is the same, except that time has dealt kindly by the tapestry 
and the gilding, and refined them in their fading. 

Faujas Saint-Fond, who spent three days in the castle a few 
years later, is full of praise of everything which he saw. The duke 
and his family, he says, spoke French with a purity not unworthy 

of the highest society 
in Paris. The cookery, 
with the exception of 
a few dishes, was 
French, and was ex- 
cellent. There was an 
abundance of hot- 
house fruits. There 
were silver forks in- 
stead of "ces petits 
tridens cl'acier bien 
aigus, en forme de 
dard, fixes sur un 
manche, clout on se 
sert ordinairement en 
Angleterre, memedans 
les maisons ou Ton 

donne de fort bons diners." 1 Still more did he rejoice at seeing 
napkins on the table, a rare sight in F^ngland. The hours of meals 
were, breakfast at ten o'clock, dinner at half-past four, and supper at 
ten. At dinner, after the ladies had withdrawn, "la cereinonie 
des (oasts " lasted at least three-quarters of an hour P 

At Inverary Johnson met not only the descendants of a long line 


person who receives the rents anil revenues of 
some corporations is still called chamhcilain ; 
as the chamberlain of London." Beatlie's .SVW- 
tictsms, p. 24. 

1 Voyage fn Anglcttrrc, &^f., i. 290. 

a He gives the following curious account of 
an accommodation which we should scarcely 
have expected to find in the dining-room of In- 

verary : "Si, pendant les libations, le champagne 
mousseux fait ressentir son influence appcritive, 
le cas cst prevu, et sans quitter la compagnie, 
on trouve dans de jolies encoignures, places dans 
les angles de la salle, tout ce qui est necessaire 
pour satisfaire a ce petit besoin." Voyage en 
Angleterre, &c., i. 294. 


of famous statesmen, but also the ancestor of a great historian. 
Lord Macaulay's grandfather was at this time Minister of 
Inverary. He passed the evening with our travellers at their inn 
after they had returned from dining at the Castle, and got some- 
what roughly handled in talk. 

"When Dr. Johnson spoke of people whose principles were good, but whose 
practice was faulty, Mr. Macaulay said, he had no notion of people being in earnest 
in their good professions, whose practice was not suitable to them. The doctor 
grew warm, and said, 'Sir, are you so grossly ignorant of human nature, as not to 
know that a man may be very sincere in good principles, without having good prac- 

On this Sir George Trevelyan remarks in his life of his uncle : 
" When we think what well-known ground this was to Lord 
Macaulay it is impossible to suppress a wish that the great talker 
had been at hand to avenge his grandfather and grand-uncle." ' 
"A hundred to one on Sam Johnson," say we. It is a pity that it 
was not at the Manse that they spent that Sunday evening ; for 
there the little child who was one day to make the name of Zachary 
Macaulay famous as the liberator of the slaves would have gazed 
with eager open eyes on the great Englishman, who had startled 
the grave men at Oxford by giving as his toast : " Here's to the 
next insurrection of the negroes in the West-Indies." 


The Duke of Argyle, who had heard Dr. Johnson complain that 
the shelties were too small for his weight, " was obliging enough to 
mount him on a stately steed from his Grace's stable." Joseph 
(Boswell's servant), said : " He now looks like a bishop." Leaving 
Inverary on the morning of Tuesday, October 26, they rode round 
the head of Loch Fyne through Glencroe to Tarbet on Loch 
Lomond. Boswell, who was becoming somewhat indolent in keep- 
ing his journal, passes over this part of their tour in silence. Saint- 
Fond speaks of the Glen as " ce triste passage." Pennant describes 
it as " the seat of melancholy," and Johnson as "a black and dreary 
region. At the top of the hill," he adds, " is a seat with this 
inscription, ' Rest and be thankful.' Stones were placed to mark 
the distances, which the inhabitants have taken away, resolved, 

1 Life of Lord Macaulay, ed. 1877, i. 7. 




they said, to have no new miles." The road was that at which 
Wolfe's men had been working twenty years earlier. 

" He that has gained at length the wished for height," still finds 

as Wordsworth many years 
later found " this brief, this 
simple wayside call," Rest 
and be Thankful ; but there 
is no longer a seat where his 
weary limbs may repose. 
Perhaps some day it will be 
restored with the old inscrip- 
tion and the following addi- 
tion : "James Wolfe, 1753. 
Samuel Johnson, i 773. Wil- 
liam Wordsworth, 1831." It 
is on a mile-stone, or on what 

looks like a mile-stone, that the inscription is now read. Beneath 
is carved. 

BY 93D RKGT. 1768. 


COMMRS FOR H. R. & B. 1 

IN THE YEAR 1814. 

One of the earlier tablets, which were believed to have been 
put up by Wolfe's men, was pulled down many years ago by a 
farmer at A rdvoirlich, and transformed into a hearth stone. 2 
Glencroe is but little changed since Johnson looked upon it. It is 
still lonely and grand. The tourist's carriage breaks the quiet from 
time to time, but it soon sinks back into " sublimity, silence and 
solitude." When we passed through it there was no succession of 
cataracts and no roaring torrent such as Johnson described. The 
long drought had made a silence in the hills. We met only one 
tourist a lad on his bicycle who had escaped that morning from 
the smoke of Glasgow, and full of eagerness and life, was pressing 
on to the inn where his long ride of fifty miles would find its pleasant 
termination in dinner and a bed. I called to mind how seven and 
thirty years before when I was just such another youngster, as 
I was crossing the top of the Glen, I had seen in the distance 

1 Commissioners for Highland Roads and Bridges. " Wright's Life oj 'General Wolff, p. 269. 



It was a big Highlander 

something white fluttering in the wind, 
returning, as he told us, from Glasgow. Overcome by the heat of 
the day, and incommoded by a garment to which he was not much 
accustomed, he had taken off his trousers and was carrying them 
on his shoulders. It was his shirt that had caught my eye. 

At Tarbet our travellers dined at the little inn on the bank of 
Loch Lomond. Here, a few years later, Saint-Fond and his party 


arrived very late on a rainy night in September. They were on 
their way from Glasgow to Inverary, and had meant to rest at Luss. 
Unfortunately for them it was the the time of the autumn circuit. 
The inn looked like a fisherman's hut. The landlady coming out 
made them a sign that they must not utter a sound. They were 
thrust into a stable, where she said : " Lc lord juge me fait 
1'honorable faveur clans sa tournee de loger chex moi ; il est la ; 
chacun doit respecter ce qu'il fait ; il dort." She added that she 
could take in neither them nor their horses. They remonstrated, 



" Point cle bruit, ne tnmblez pas le sommeil clu juge, respect a la 
loi ; soyez heureux et partez." They had no help for it, but drove 
on with their weary horses through the night and the heavy rain to 
Tarbet, where they arrived between three and four next morning. 
There they found all the beds occupied by jurymen, who were on 
their way to Inverary. The landlady did what she could to make 
them comfortable, and gave them some good tea in a set of China 
cups which had been given her by the Duchess of Argyle. 1 

At Stuckgown, close to Tarbet, Lord Jeffrey for many years 
passed a few weeks of every summer, in a quietness and solitude 
which have for ever fled the place. Writing from Tarbet on August 5, 
1818, he says : " Here we are in a little inn on the banks of Loch 


Lomond, in the midst of the mists of the mountains, the lakes, 
heaths, rocks, and cascades which have been my passion since I was 
a boy, and to which, like a boy, I have run away the instant I could 
get my hands clear of law, and review, and Edinburgh. They 
have no post-horses in the Highlands, and we sent away those that 
brought us here, with orders to come back for us to morrow, and 
so we are left without a servant, entirely at the mercy of the 
natives." He goes on to mention a steam-boat " which circum- 
navigates the whole lake every day in about ten hours. It was 
certainly very strange and striking to hear and see it hissing and 
roaring past the headlands of our little bay, foaming and spouting 
like an angry whale ; but on the whole it rather vulgarises the 
scene too much, and I am glad that it is found not to answer, and 

' Voyage mi Augletarre, &(., i. 268. 


is to be dropped next year." 1 At Tarbet the tourist who is 
oppressed with the size of the hotel and the army of waiters, and 
who sees the pier as I saw it crowned with an automatic sweet- 
meat machine, may well wish that the steam-boat had never been 
found to answer. The scene is hopelessly vulgarised. It is fast 
sinking into the paradise of cockneys. I asked for that variety of 
bread which I remember to have seen served up there thirty-seven 
years ago. I was scornfully told that in those days the Scotch had 
not known how to bake, but that now they could make a large loaf 
as well as anyone. At Inverary I had in vain asked for oat-cakes 
at my hotel. If Johnson were to make his journey in these present 
times, and were confined to the big tourists' hotels, he would 
certainly no longer say that an epicure, wherever he had supped, 
would wish to breakfast in Scotland. 

From Tarbet he rode along the shores of Loch Lomond to 
Rosedew, 2 the house of Sir 
James Colquhoun. "It was 
a place," says the historian 

of Dumbartonshire, "rich .' .'3IHMBMW f -^*^ l ^ S 

in historic associations, but - 
about 1770 it was super- 
seded by a new mansion, to INCH GALIi RAnH. 
which large additions have 

since been made."' Here Boswell passed in review fohnson's 
courteous behaviour at Inverary, and said, " You were quite a 
fine gentleman when with the duchess.' He answered in good 
humour, 'Sir, I look upon myself as a very polite man.'" Next 
morning "we took," writes Johnson, "a boat to rove upon the 
lake. It has about thirty islands, of which twenty belong to Sir 
James. Young Colquhoun' went into the boat with us, but a 
little agitation of the water frighted him to shore. We passed 
up and down and landed upon one small island, 3 on which are the 
ruins of a castle ; and upon another much larger, which serves Sir 
James for a park, and is remarkable for a large wood of yew trees." 
Just one hundred years later, on December 18, 1873, that very fate 
befel one of his descendants which the young Colquhoun dreaded 

1 Cockburn's Life of Jeffrey, ed. 1852, ii. 180. was made from the old castle to the centre 

' 2 Rossdhu. portion." 

3 J. Irving's Book of Dumbartonshire, ii. 242. 4 Johnson spells the name as it was pronounced 

See il>. p. 257, where it is stated that it was in Column. 

1774 (the year after Johnson's visit), that " a re- "' Inch Galbrailh. 

L L 


lor himself. In the darkness of a winter's evening his boat was 
upset as he was coming home from the Yew Island, and he was 
drowned with three of his gamekeepers and a boy. It was never 
known how the accident happened, for no one escaped ; but the 
boat was heavily laden with the dead bodies of some stags, which 
I hey had shot in the island, and the unhappy men were weighed 
down with their accoutrements and the ammunition which they 
carried. The yew trees were planted, it was said, on the advice of 
King Robert Bruce, in order to furnish the Lennox men with 


trusty bows. 1 The old castle, "on which the osprey built her 
annual nest," is so much buried in ivy that it is not easily distin- 
guished from the surrounding woods. We hired a boat at Luss 
and in our turn roved upon the lake. We landed on one of the 
islands and lunched on the top of a rock by the ruins of a second 
castle. Loch Lomond, studded with islands, lay like a mirrqr 
beneath us, with the huge Hen Lomond for a noble background. 
From time to time a boat broke the smoothness of the water, and 
the cry of a gull, or the bark of a far-away dog, the stillness of the 
air. We spoke of the heat and bustle of the world, but imagination 
almost refused to picture them in so peaceful a spot. Our boat- 

' living's Hook of ntimlni rtonshire, \. 347. 

01.1) AND NKW DOM1NIKS. 259 

man was a man of a strong niiiul, which had not been suffered t.o 
lie barren. lie bore his parl well in a talk on books. 1 had 
chanced to mention the serfs who worked in the coal minus and 
salt-pans in Scotland ; he at once struck into the conversation. 
" Sir Walter Scott," he said, " makes one of his characters say, ' he 
would not take him back like a collier on a salter.' This made me 
look the matter up for I did not understand what he meant." lie 
praised the old Scotch common schools. " We Scotchmen," he 
proudly said, "have had education lor three; hundred years. A 
Scotch working-man would starve to death to give his son a good 
education." The; present race of schoolmasters who are " paid by 
results," he contrasted unfavourably with those whom he had 
known in his boyhood. " The old Dominies would willingly teach 
all that they knew, and grudged no time to a boy who was eager 
for knowledge ; but now they are like other people, and when they 
have done their day's work they will do no more." In the village 
club to which he belonged, they had in the last two or three 
winters engaged for a few weeks a young Glasgow student to teach 
them elocution, " for how could they enjoy Shakespeare if they did 
not know how to read him properly ? " He praised the Colquhouns. 
' They would never send any of their tenants to prison for poaching. 
They might fine them, but the money they would give away in 
charity." He spoke of the old clan feeling, and of the protection 
given by the laird. 1 1 is grandfather, who was a farmer, a Mac- 
pherson by name, had married a Macqueen. 1 On a rapid fall in 
the price of Highland cattle he fell into money difficulties, and 
was harshly threatened with a forced sale by one of his creditors. 
The Laird of the Macqueens said significantly to this man : " You 
may do whatever you like against Macpherson, but remember that 
his wife is a Macquecn." The hint was enough, and the pro- 
ceedings were at once dropped. Our boatman had read Johnson's 
Journey lo l/ie Western islands, but said that Scotchmen feel too 
sore about him to like reading him. I opened the book, for I had 
it with me, and read the concluding words in which he says : 
" Novelty and ignorance must always be reciprocal, and I cannot 
but be conscious that my thoughts on national manners are the 
thoughts of one who has seen but little." My boatman was much 
struck with his modesty, and seemed to think that he had formed 
too severe a judgment. 

1 I have int'.-nti'jnully altered the names. 



Boswell was not so careful in recording Johnson's talk on the 
Lake as I was with our boatman's. " I recollect," he writes, 
" none of his conversation, except that, when talking of dress, he 
said, ' Sir, were I to have any thing fine, it should be very fine. 
Were I to wear a ring, it should not be a bauble, but a stone of 
great value. Were I to wear a laced or embroidered waistcoat, it 
should be very rich. I had once a very rich laced waistcoat, which 
I wore the first night of my tragedy.' " Johnson, nearly five and 
twenty years before, sat in one of the side-boxes of Drury Lane 
Theatre, in a scarlet waistcoat, with rich gold lace, and a gold- 


laced hat, listening to the catcalls whistling before the curtain rose ; 
how little could he have thought that one day he would boast of 
his costume as he was roving in a boat upon Loch Lomond ! 

In the evening they drove to Cameron, the seat of Commissary 
Smollett. It was the first drive which they had taken since at 
Inverness they began their equitation full two months earlier. 
" Our satisfaction," says Boswell, " of \_sic\ finding ourselves again in a 
comfortable carriage was very great. We had a pleasing convic- 
tion of the commocliousness of civilisation, and heartily laughed at 
the ravings of those absurd visionaries who have attempted to 
persuade us of the superior advantages of a state of nature." With 
these visionaries Boswell himself sometimes sided. The people of 



Otaheite especially had won his admiration. "No, Sir;" said 
Johnson to him on one such occasion : "You are not to talk such 
paradox ; let me have no more on't. It cannot entertain, far less can 
it instruct." " Don't cant in defence of savages," he said, on another 
occasion. At Cameron they had none of this fanciful talk. Their 
host " was a man of considerable learning, with abundance of 
animal spirits ; so that he was a very good companion for Dr. 
Johnson, who said, ' We have had more solid talk here than at 
any place where we have been.' ' He was a relation of the great 
novelist, and one of the four judges of the Commissary Court in 
Edinburgh. It was the sole court 
in Scotland which took cognisance 
of actions about marriage, and the 
Supreme Court in all questions of 
probate. " It sat," says the lively 
Topham, " in a little room of about 
ten feet square; from the darkness 
and dirtiness of it you would rather 
imagine that those who were brought 
into it were confined there." The 
judges were paid rather by per- 
quisites than by salaries. In each 
cause they fixed the amount which 
the litigants should pay them for the 
sentence which they pronounced. 1 

Smollett, in his Humphry Clinker, 
brings Matthew Bramble and his 

nephew to Cameron, who describe it as " a very neat country 
house, but so embosomed in an oak wood that we did not see it 
till we were within fifty yards of the cloor." " If I was disposed to 
be critical," Mr. Bramble continues, " I should say it is too near 
the Lake, which approaches on one side to within six or seven 
yards of the window." The Commissary had erected a pillar by 
the side of the high road to Glasgow, " to the memory of his 
ingenious kinsman," who two years earlier had died in Italy, 
" Eheu ! quam procul a patria ! " The Latin inscription for this 
monument was shown to Johnson, and revised by him " with an 
ardent and liberal earnestness." The copy with the corrections 


1 Topham's Letters from Edinburgh, p. 299, anil Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 491. 

2 Humphry Clinker, iii. 17, 39. 



in his handwriting is preserved among the family papers at 
Cameron. 1 

On Thursday, October 28, a postchaise which Boswell had 
ordered from Glasgow, " came for us," he says, " and we drove on 
in high spirits." On their way they stopped at Dunbarton, then 
"a small but good old town, consisting principally of one large 
street in the form of a crescent ; " ' but now a smoky seat of the iron 
ship-building industry. The steep rock on which the Castle stands 
Johnson " ascended with alacrity." At Glasgow they stayed at the 
" Saracen's Head," " the paragon of inns in the eyes of the Scotch," 
says a writer in the Gentleman 's Magazine, " but most wretchedly 


managed." 1 Our two travellers seem to have been contented. 
Johnson, no doubt, was kept in the best of humours by the sight of 
a great many letters from England, after the long interval of sixty- 
eight days during which not a line had reached him. " He enjoyed 
in imagination the comforts which we could now command, and 
seemed to be in high glee. I remember, he put a leg up on each 
side of the grate, and said, with a mock solemnity, by way of 
soliloquy, but loud enough for me to hear it: ' Here am I, an 
ENGLISH man, sitting by a wz/fire.'" Of fires made by peat, 
that " sullen fuel," he had had enough in the last two months. All 
along the sea-board coal was made artificially dear by the folly of 

1 Irving's Book of Dumbartonshire, ii. 200. ' 2 Pennant's Tour in Scotland, ed, 1774,1.228. 

3 Gentleman's Magazine, 1771, p. 545. 


Parliament. A duty of five shillings and fourpence per chaldron, 
says Knox, was levied on coal at ports; none on inland coal. It 
had to be landed at a port where there is a custom-house, and might 
then be re-shipped for some other place in the neighbourhood. 1 
Custom-houses were few and far between, so that in many cases, 
if coal was used at all, it would have had to be twice landed and 
twice shipped. On this mischievous regulation Adam Smith re- 
marks : " Where coals are naturally cheap they are consumed duty 
free ; where they are naturally dear, they are loaded with a heavy 
duty." 2 

The "Saracen's Head" with its coal fire has disappeared. My 
boatman had heard the old people talk of it. In this inn the following 
morning Dr. Reid, the philosopher, and two of the other professors 
of the University breakfasted with Johnson. He met some of them 
also at dinner, tea, and supper. " I was not much pleased with 
any of them," he wrote to Mrs. Thrale. Boswell unfortunately 
was again lazy with his journal, and kept no record of the talk. 
Writing long afterwards, he says : " The general impression upon 
my memory is, that we had not much conversation at Glasgow, 
where the professors, like their brethren at Aberdeen, did not 
venture to expose themselves much to the battery of cannon which 
they knew might play upon them." Reid's silence was perhaps 
merely due to that reserve which he generally shewed among 
strangers. 3 Had fate been kinder, the great Clow might have been 
still among them, who twenty-two years before had been preferred 
both to Hume and Burke as Adam Smith's successor in the Chair 
of Logic. 4 The story of the Billingsgate altercation between 
Smith and Johnson, recorded by Sir Walter Scott, is wholly 
untrue. Smith was not at this time in Glasgow. It is, no doubt, 
one of those tales about Johnson in which Scotch invention was 
humorously displayed. It was, perhaps, meant as a reply to the 
question which one day, in London, he put to Adam Smith, who 
was boasting of Glasgow, " Pray, sir, have you ever seen Brent- 
ford ? " Boswell says : " I put him in mind of it to-day while he 
expressed his admiration of the elegant buildings, and whispered 
him, ' Don't you feel some remorse ?' ' Smith's pride in the city 
where he had spent more than three years as a student, and twelve 
as a professor, was assuredly well-founded. Johnson calls it 

1 Knox's Tour, pp. cli-iii. 3 Ty tier's Life of Lord Kama, ii. 230. 

" Wealth of Nations, ed. i8n, iii. 335. 4 Burton's Life of Hume, i. 351. 


"opulent and handsome," and Boswell "beautiful." Nearly two 
centuries earlier Camden had said that " for pleasant situation, 
apple-trees, and other like fruit-trees, it is much commended." ' 
Uefoe describes it as "indeed a very fine city; the four principal 
streets are the fairest for breadth, and the finest built that I have 
ever seen in one city together. It is the cleanest, and beautifullest, 
and best built city in Britain, London excepted." 1 Another 
traveller of about the same date says that " it is the beautifullest 
little city he had seen in Britain. It stands deliciously on the 
banks of the River Clyde." 3 In June, 1757, John Wesley went 
up to the top of the cathedral steeple. " It gave us a fine pros- 
pect," he writes, " both of the city and the adjacent country. A 
more fruitful and better cultivated plain is scarce to be seen in 
England." 4 Smollett swells the general chorus of praise : " Glasgow 
is the pride of Scotland. It is one of the prettiest towns in 
Europe." 5 Pennant, who visited it the year before Johnson, calls 
it " the best built of any second-rate city I ever saw. The view 
from the Cross has an air of vast magnificence."' 

At the Rebellion of i 745 the citizens had shown the greatest 
loyalty. They raised and supported at their own expense two 
battalions of six hundred men each, who joined the duke's army. 
Their town was occupied by the Pretender's forces, who for ten days 
lived there at free quarters. They had had to pay, moreover, two 
heavy fines, amounting to more than nine thousand pounds, imposed 
on them for their fidelity to the Hanoverian Family. In 1749, in 
answer to their petition for relief, they received a grant from Par- 
liament of ten thousand pounds. 7 On April 24 of that same year 
a stage-coach began to run between Glasgow and Edinburgh, 
starting from Edinburgh every Monday and Thursday, and from 
Glasgow every Tuesday and Friday. " Every person pays nine 
shillings fare, and is allowed a stone-weight of luggage " By the 
year 1783 far greater facilities were afforded. In John Tail's 
Directory for Glasgow of that year (p. 77) it is announced that 
" three machines set out from each town every day at eight morn- 
ing. They stop on the road and change horses. Tickets, toy. 6d. 

1 Camden's Description of Scotland, 2nd ed. ' Wesley's Journal, ii. 410. 

p. 8l. 5 Humphry Clinker, iii. 14, 33. 

3 Defoe's Tour through Great Britain: Scot- ' : Voyage to the Hebrides, ed. 1774, p. 127 

land, p. 83. 7 Scots Magazine, 1749, p. 202. 

3 J. Macky's Journey through Scotland, ed. "* Scots Magazine, 1749, p. 253. 
1723, p. 295. 


each." There was another daily " machine" belonging to a different 
set of proprietors, besides one which ran only three times a week, 
and charged but 8s. 6d. " The Carlisle Diligence," it is announced, 
" sets out every lawful day." 

As we gaze on the filthy river which runs by the large city, on 
the dense cloud of smoke which hangs over it, on the grimy streets 
which have swallowed up the country far and wide, while we exult 
in the display of man's ingenuity and strength, and in the com- 
merce by which the good things of earth are so swiftly and cheaply 
interchanged, we may mourn over the beautiful little town among 
the apple-trees which stood so deliciously on the banks of the fair 
and pure stream that ran to seawards beneath the arches of the old 
stone bridge. How far removed from us are those days when 
Glasgow was pillaged by the wild rabble of Highlanders! Yet I 
have an uncle 1 still living who remembers his grandfather and his 
grandfather's brother, one of whom had climbed up a tree to see 
the other march with a body of Worcestershire volunteers against 
the Young Pretender. 

Johnson, after seeing the sights of the city, visited the college. 
" It has not had," he writes, "a sufficient share of the increasing 
magnificence of the place." From the account which Dr. Alex- 
ander Carlyle gives of the citizens, as he had known them about 
thirty years earlier, they were not likely to trouble themselves much 
about the glory of their University. With a few exceptions they 
were " shopkeepers and mechanics, or successful pedlars, who occu- 
pied large warerooms full of manufactures of all sorts to furnish a 
cargo to Virginia In those accomplishments and that taste that 
belong to people of opulence, much more to persons of education, 
they were far behind the citizens of Edinburgh." There was not 
a teacher of French or of music in the whole town. Nevertheless, 
in the University itself he found "learning an object of more 
importance, and the habit of application much more general " than 
in the rival institution in the capital.* Wesley compared the two 
squares which formed the college with the small quadrangles of 
Lincoln College, Oxford, of which he was a Fellow, and did not 
think them larger, or at all handsomer. He was surprised at the 
dress of the students. " They wear scarlet gowns, reaching only 
to their knees. Most I saw were very dirty, some very ragged, 

1 Mr. Frederic Hill, late Assistant-Secretary ' 2 Dr. A. Carlyle's Autobiography, pp. 71, 

to the Post Office. 74. 

M M 


and all of very coarse cloth." How much more surprised would 
he have been at the far shorter gowns now worn by the com- 
moners in his own university, showing, as they do, a raggedness 
which is not the effect of age and wear, but of intentional mutila- 
tion ! There is an affectation of antiquity quite as much in a 
freshman's gown, as in the pedigree of some upstart who boasts 
that he is sprung from the Plantagenets. The college numbered 
at this time about four hundred students, most of whom lived in 
lodgings, but some boarded with the professors." 

The principal was Dr. Leechman, whose sermon on prayer had 
once raised a storm " among the high-flying clergy. " :l 

" In his house Dr. Johnson had the satisfaction of being told that his name had 
been gratefully celebrated in one of the parochial congregations in the Highlands, 
as the person to whose influence it was chiefly owing that the New Testament was 
allowed to be translated into the Erse language. It seems some political members 
of the Society in Scotland for propagating Christian Knowledge had opposed this 
pious undertaking, as tending to preserve the distinction between the Highlanders 
and Lowlanders." 

Johnson, in a letter full of generous indignation, had main- 
tained that " he that voluntarily continues ignorance, is guilty of 
all the crimes which ignorance produces," and had compared these 
political Christians to the planters of America, " a race of mortals 
whom, I suppose, no other man wishes to resemble." Though he 
was no doubt struck by Leechman's appearance, " which was that 
of an ascetic, reduced by fasting and prayer," yet in his talk he 
could have had no pleasure. "He was not able to carry on 
common conversation, and when he spoke at all, it was a short 
lecture." The young students who were invited to his house, 
longed to be summoned from the library to tea in the drawing- 
room, where his wife " maintained a continued conversation on 
plays, novels, poetry, and the fashions." ; 


On Saturday, October 30, our travellers set out on their way to 
Boswell's home at Auchinleck, in Ayrshire. Part of the way must 

1 Wesley's Journal, ii. 286. ' Dr. A. Carlyle's Autobiography, p. 69, and 

'' Pennant's Voyage to the Hebrides, ud. I774> Johnson's Bosivell, v. 68. 
p. 136. 4 Boswell's Johnson, ii. 27. 

5 Dr. A. Carlyle's Autobiography, pp. 68, 83. 


have been over a wild country, for a few years earlier, in his " In- 
structions" for his friend Temple on his tour to Auchinleck, he 
writes : " Set out [from Glasgow] for Kingswell, to which you have 
a good road ; arrived there, get a guide to put you through the 
muir to Loudoun." ' He and Johnson did not go the whole dis- 
tance in one day, though they had but thirty-four miles to travel. 
They broke their journey at the house of Mr. Campbell, of Trees- 
bank, who had married Mrs. Boswell's sister. Here they rested 
till Tuesday. At a few miles distance Robert Burns, a lad of 
thirteen, " a dexterous ploughman for his age," was spending his 
boyhood "in unceasing moil" and hardship, not having as yet 
" committed the sin of rhyme." Boswell, I believe, much as he 
admired Allan Ramsay's poem in the Scottish dialect, The Gentle 


Shepherd, never makes mention of Burns, and Burns only once 
mentions him. In the Author s Earnest Cry and Prayer, written 
before the year 1786, he says : 

" Alas ! I'm but a nameless wight, 
Trode i' the mire an' out o' sight ! 
But could I like Montgomeries fight, 

Or gab 2 like Boswell, 
There's some sark-necks 3 I wad draw tight, 

An' tie some hose well." 

Dundonald Castle, in which Robert II. lived and died, our travellers 
visited on Monday morning. " It has long been unroofed," writes 
Boswell, "and though of considerable size we could not by any 
power of imagination, figure it as having been a suitable habitation 
for majesty. Dr. Johnson, to irritate my old Scottish enthusiasm, 

1 Boswell's Letters to Temple, p. 98. 3 To prate. 3 Shirt-collars. 

2 68 " KINd MOB'S" CASTLE 

was very jocular on the homely accommodation of " King Jiob," 
and roared and laughed till the ruins echoed." 

The castle belongs to two periods. The original keep was 
eighty-one feet long, forty broad, and seventy high. It was after- 
wards lengthened at the southern end by seventeen feet. " The 
great hall has been a very noble apartment." ' Boswell justly 
praises the view. "It stands," he says, "on a beautiful rising 
ground, which is seen at a great distance on several quarters, and 
from whence there is an extensive prospect of the rich district of 
Cuninghame, the western sea, the isle of Arran, and a part of the 
northern coast of Ireland." Camden quaintly says that " the name 
Cunninghams, if one interpret it, is as much as the Kings Habita- 
tion, by which a man may guess how commodious and pleasant it 
is." As I sat on the Castle hill, and looked over the fine country 
to the north-west, I could have wished that the tall chimneys of 
Irvine, pouring forth clouds of smoke, had been out of sight. In 
the plain, at the distance of about a mile, a thin line of steam 
showed where a heavy train was creeping along the railway. Just 
beneath us the low spire of the church rose among the trees, while 
in the gardens of the cottages that clustered around it there was an 
abundance of fruit trees and of vegetables which would have de- 
lighted Johnson's heart, such as " King Bob " never saw or even 
dreamt of. Beyond the village were undulating fields of well- 
cultivated land. To the west, almost within bow-shot, stands a 
steep rocky hill a counterpart of that on which the castle is 
placed all covered with wood. High over the old ruins the 
swifts were flying and screaming. The sole tenants of the great 
hall were some black cattle whom my entrance disturbed. Where 
kings once kept their court, and frowned and were flattered, 

"There but houseless cattle go 
To shield them from the storm." 

High up on the wall of the keep there are two stone shields, on 
which still can be traced the royal and the Stewart arms. Little 
did they who carved them think that the day was to come when 
they would have sunk into the ornaments of a cow-house. 

From Dundonald our travellers rode on a short distance 
to Auchans, the house of the Dowager Countess of Eglintoune. 
Johnson, in a letter to Mrs. Thrale, describes her as "a lady who 

1 Macgibbon and Ross's Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, i. 167, 171. 
1 Description of Scotland, 2nd cd. p. 68. 



for many years gave the laws of elegance to Scotland. She is in 
full vigour of mind, and not much impaired in form. She is only 
eighty-three. She was remarking that her marriage was in the 
year eight ; and I told her my birth was in nine. ' Then,' says 
she, ' I am just old enough to be your mother, and I will take you 
for my son.' She called Boswell the boy. ' Yes, Madam,' said I, 
' we will send him to school.' ' He is already,' said she, 'in a good 


school ; ' and expressed her hope of his improvement. At last 
night came, and I was sorry to leave her." " She had been," writes 
Boswell, " the admiration of the gay circles of life, and the patroness 
of poets." To her Allan Ramsay had dedicated his Gentle Shep- 
herd, and Hamilton of Bangour had addressed verses. With his 
reception Johnson was delighted, so congenial were their principles 
in church and state. " In her bed-rooms," says Dx. Robert 
Chambers, " was hung a portrait of her sovereign dc jure, the ill- 
starred Charles Edward, so situated as to be the first object 
which met her sight on awaking in the morning." 1 She who 

1 R. Chambers's Traditions of Edinburgh, ed. 1869, p. 217. 

2 7 


had patronised poets and worshipped princes in her last years 
amused herself l>y taming rats. " She had a panel in the oak 
wainscot of her dining-room, which she tapped upon and opened 
at meal-times, when ten or twelve jolly rats came tripping forth 
and joined her at table." She died in 1780, at the age of ninety- 


Auchans Old Auchans as it is now called since the countess's 
death has been chielly inhabited by caretakers. It was built in 
1644, at a time when in the houses of the great comfort was more 
studied than means of defence. Nevertheless " we find some shot- 
holes near the entrance doorway." : It is finely placed among the 
trees, with views of Dundonalcl Castle on one side and of the sea 
in the distance on the other. The interior has been greatly altered 

by the division of rooms and 
blocking up of windows and 
passages. We were only 
shown a small part of it, and 
looked with sadness on the 
broken ceiling in what by 
tradition is known as the 
dining-room. It is a pity that 
so interesting and so fine a 
building should have suffered 
under the neglect of a whole 
century. It is so strongly 
built that it looks as if it 
could, at no excessive expense, be once more made habitable. 
Johnson had not been easily persuaded to visit it, but " he was so 
much pleased with his entertainment, that he owned," says Boswell, 
" that I had done well to force him out." No less pleased was the 
old countess, " who, when they were going away, embraced him, 
saying, ' My dear son, farewell.' ' Neither of this visit nor of one 
which he had paid two days earlier to the Earl of Loudoun, who 
"jumped for joy" at the thought of seeing him, does he make any 
mention in his book. He was the last man to indulge "in that 
vain ostentatious importance," which he censured in many people, 
"of quoting the authority of dukes and lords." He merely says 
that, "on our way from Glasgow to Auchinleck we found several 

1 R. Chambers's Traditions oj Edinburgh, ed. 2 Macgibbon and Ross's Castellated Architec- 

1869, p. 217. lecture of Scotland, ii. 174. 



places remarkable enough in themselves, but already described 
by those who viewed them at more leisure, or with much more 


On Tuesday, November 2, our travellers having ordered a 
chaise from Kilmarnock, drove to Auchinleck, where they arrived 
in time for dinner. " We purpose," wrote Johnson that same 
evening, " to stay here some days, more or fewer, as we are used." 
He said " we " advisedly, for he knew that not only between Lord 
Auchinleck and himself there was little in common, but that also 
between the father and son there was no freedom of intercourse. 
" My father," Boswell once complained, "cannot bear that his son 
should talk with him as a man." l How uncomfortable was his 
position at home is shown by a letter which he wrote to his friend 
the Rev. Mr. Temple in September, 1775 : 

"I came to Auchinleck on Monday last, and I have patiently lived at it till 
Saturday evening. ... It is hardly credible how difficult it is for a man of my sen- 
sibility to support existence in the family where I now am. My father, whom I 
really both respect and affectionate (if that is a word, for it is a different feeling from 
that which is expressed by /we, which I can say of you from my soul), is so different 
from me. We divaricate so much, as Dr. Johnson said, that I am often hurt when, 
I dare say, he means no harm : and he has a method of treating me which makes me 
feel myself like a timid boy, which to Boswell (comprehending all that my character 
does in my own imagination and in that of a wonderful number of mankind) is 
intolerable. His wife too, whom in my conscience I cannot condemn for any 
capital bad quality, is so narrow-minded, and, I don't know how, so set upon keeping 
him under her own management, and so suspicious and so sourishly tempered that 
it requires the utmost exertion of practical philosophy to keep myself quiet. I how- 
ever have done so all this week to admiration : nay, I have appeared good-humoured ; 
but it has cost me drinking a considerable quantity of strong beer to dull my 
faculties." * 

It can scarcely be doubted that he is describing the position 
Which he himself held at home, in an essay which he published in 
the London Magazine in 1781 (p. 253) : 

" I knew a father who was a violent Whig, and used to attack his son for being 
a Tory, upbraiding him with being deficient in ' noble sentiments of liberty,' while 
at the same time he made this son live under his roof in such bondage, that he was 
not only afraid to stir from home without leave, like a child, but durst scarcely open 

1 Letters of Boswell to Temple, p. 255. 2 /*., p. 215. 


his mouth in his father's presence. This was sad living. Yet I would rather see 
such an excess of awe than a degree of familiarity between father and son by which 
all reverence is destroyed." 

Lord Auchinlcck had taken unto himself a second wife on the 
very day of his son's marriage. She was, in all likelihood, in the 
house at the time of Johnson's visit, but neither by him nor 
Boswell is she once mentioned. She remained, no doubt, silent 
and insignificant. With their reception they must have been 
satisfied on the whole, as they prolonged their stay till the sixth 
day, in spite of the famous altercation which Boswell's piety forbade 
him to record at any length. That only one such scene should 
have occurred speaks well for the self-control both of host and 
guest. To Boswell Johnson had quickly become attached. " Give 
me your hand," he said to him in the first weeks of their acquain- 
tance, " I have taken a liking to you." A month or so later he 
added, " There are few people to whom I take so much as to you." 
But Lord Auchinleck, though he might have respected he never 
could have liked. No men were more unlike in everything but 
personal appearance, than Boswell and his father. The old man 
had none of that " facility of manners," of which, according to Adam 
Smith, the son " was happily possessed." Whence he got it we 
are nowhere told perhaps from his mother. It certainly was not 
from his paternal grandfather, the old advocate, " who was a slow, 
dull man of unwearied perseverance and immeasurable length in his 
speeches. It was alleged he never understood a cause till he had 
lost it thrice." 1 There were those who attributed Boswell's 
eccentricities to his great grandmother, Veronica, Countess of 
Kincardine, a Dutch lady of the noble house of Sommelsdyck. 
" For this marriage," writes Ramsay of Ochtertyre, " their posterity 
paid dear, for most of them had peculiarities which they had better 
have wanted." He adds that " Boswell's behaviour on the occasion 
of the riots in Edinburgh about the Douglas cause, savoured so 
much of insanity, that it was generally imputed to his Dutch 
blood. " ; Why madness was supposed to come from Holland I 
do not know. Sir William Temple, writing of that country, says : 
" In general all appetites and passions seem to run lower and 
cooler here than in other countries where I have conversed. Their 
tempers are not airy enough for joy or any unusual strains of 

1 Correspondence of Bos-ivell ami Erskine, eel. * Scotland and Scotsmen of the Eighteenth 

1879, p. 26. Century, i. 161. 

' Scotland and Scotsmen of the Eighteenth Century, i. 161, 173. 



pleasant humour, nor warm enough for love. This is talked of some- 
times among the younger men, but as a thing they have heard of rather 

than felt ; and as a discourse 
that becomes them rather 
than affects them." ' All 
this was the very reverse 
of Boswell's eager and wild 
youth, though perhaps not 

unlike the character 
of his father and 
grandfather. There 
was one thing in 
common between 
Johnson and the old 
judge, both were 
sound scholars. At 
Auchinleck there 

was a library " which," 
says Boswell," in curious 
editions of the Greek 
and Roman classics is, 
I suppose, not excelled 
by any private collec- 
tion in Great Britain." 

1 Temple's Works, ed. 1757, i. 160. 

N N 


Here Johnson found an edition of Anacreon which he had long 
sought in vain. " They had therefore much matter for conversation 
without touching on the fatal topics of difference." In all questions 
of Church and State they were wide as the poles asunder. In 
the perfect confidence which each man had in his own judgment 
there was nothing to choose between them. 

" My father," writes Boswell, "was as sanguine a Whig and Presbyterian as Dr. 
Johnson was a Tory and Church-of-England man : and as he had not much leisure 
to lie informed of Dr. Johnson's great merits by reading his works, he had a partial 
and unfavourable notion of him, founded on his supposed political tenets ; which 
were so discordant to his own, that instead of speaking of him with that respect to 
which he was entitled, he used to call him ' a Jacobite fellow.' Knowing all this, I 
should not have ventured to bring them together, had not my father, out of kindness 
to me, desired me to invite Dr. Johnson to his house. I was very anxious that all 
should be well ; and begged of my friend to avoid three topics, as to which they 
differed very widely ; \Vhiggism, Fresbyterianism, and Sir John Fringle. He said 
courteously, ' I shall certainly not talk on subjects which I am told are disagreeable 
to a gentleman under whose roof I am ; especially, I shall not do so to your father? ' 

Yet with all Lord Auchinleck's gravity and contempt of his 
son's flightiness, he had known what it was not only to be young, 
but to be foolish. Like so many of the young Scotchmen of old, 
he had been sent to Holland to study civil law. Thence he had 
made his way to Paris, where he had played the fop. Years after- 
wards one of the companions of his youth, meeting his son at Lord 
Kames's table, " told him that he had seen his father strutting 
abroad in red-heeled shoes and red stockings. The lad was so 
much diverted with it that he could hardly sit on his chair for 
laughing." J His appointment as judge he owed to that most 
corrupt of Whig ministers, the Duke of Newcastle, 2 and he was as 
Whiggish as his patron. King William III., "one of the most 
worthless scoundrels that ever existed," according to Johnson, was 
to him the greatest hero in modern times. Presbyterianism he 
loved all the more because it was a cheap religion, and narrowed 
the power of the clergy. He laid it clown as a rule that a poor 
clergy was ever a pure clergy. He added that in former times 
they had timber communion cups and silver ministers, but now 
we were getting silver cups and timber ministers. 3 According 
to Sir Walter Scott he carried " his Whiggery and Presbyte- 

1 Scotland and Scotsmen, \. 161. The I take care to have my clothes well made." 
Earl of Chesterfield, writing to his son in the Letters to his Son, ed. 1774, iii. 227. 
year I75 1 ! says: "I do not indeed wear feathers 3 Historical Manuscripts Commission, 1874, 

and red heels, which would ill suit my age ; but p. 531. 

3 Scotland and Scotsmen, &c., \, 170; ii. 556. 


rianism to such a height, that once, when a countryman came in 
to state some justice business, and being required to make his oath, 
declined to do so before his lordship, because he was not a 
covenanted magistrate ' Is that a' your objection, mon ? ' said the 
judge : ' come your ways in here, and we'll baith of us tak the 
solemn league and covenant together.' The oath was accordingly 
agreed and sworn to by both, and I dare say it was the last time it 
ever received such homage." He would have nothing to do with 
clearing his tongue of Scotticisms, or with smoothing and rounding 
his periods on the model of the English classical authors. " His 
Scotch was broad and vulgar." 1 In one thing at all events he was 
sure of receiving Johnson's warm approval. He was a great 
planter of trees. " It was," he said, "his favourite recreation. In 
his vacations he used to prune with his own hands the trees which 
he himself had planted. Beginning at five in the morning, he 
wrought with his knife every spare hour. Of Auchinleck he was 
passionately foncl." : He was not the man to prefer Fleet Street 
to the beauties of Nature. " I perceive some dawnings of taste for 
the country," wrote his son on one of his visits to his old home. 
"I will force a taste for rural beauties." He never succeeded 
in the attempt, and though he often boasted of " walking among 
the rocks and woods of his ancestors," it was from a distance that 
he most admired them. 

Rarely were two men more unlike. The old man had in excess 
that foresight which in Boswell was so largely wanting. He had 
built himself a new house, which Johnson describes as " very mag- 
nificent and very convenient ; " but he had proceeded " so slowly 
and prudently that he hardly felt the expense." r ' Across the front 

of it he put the inscription 

" Quod pctis hie est, 
Est Ulubris, animus si te non deficit aequus." 

" It is," writes Boswell, " characteristic of the founder ; hut the animus (eqiius is, 
alas ! not inheritable, nor the subject of devise. He always talked' to me as if it 
were in a man's own power to attain it ; but Dr. Johnson told me that he owned to 
him, when they were alone, his persuasion that it was in a great measure constitu- 
tional, or the effect of causes which do not depend on ourselves, and that Horace 
boasts too much when he says, tzqiium mi aniimtm ipse paralio." 

' Itosvvell's_/0/iTO, v. 382, n. 2. '' " The peace yen seek is here where is it 

2 Scotland and Scotsmen, &=f., ii. 543. not? 

3 Ib. \. 166. If your own mint! be equal to the Int." 

1 Letters of Boswell to Temple, pp. 216, 219. CKOKER. 

J Scotland and Scotsmen, OTY. , i. 166. 


lie had, too, that sobriety of character in which his son was so 
conspicuously wanting. " Mis age, his office, and his character, 
had given him an acknowledged claim to great attention in what- 
ever company he was, and he could ill brook any diminution of 
it." He was by no means deficient in humour, and in this respect 
father and son were alike. " He had a great many good stories, 
which he told uncommonly well, and he was remarkable for 
' humour, incolumi gravitate' as Lord Monbocldo used to cha- 
racterize it." 

The contrast between his dignity and gravity, and Boswell's 
bustling and most comical liveliness, must have been as amusing 
as it was striking. His ignorance of his son's genius, and the 
contempt for him which he did not conceal, heightened the picture. 
Johnson's presence would have greatly added to the interest of 
the scene, for Boswell must have constantly wavered between his 
admiration of his idol and his awe of his father. A few years 
later Miss Burney met Boswell at Streatham, and thus describes 
him, no doubt with a good deal of exaggeration : 

" He spoke the Scotch accent strongly. He had an odd mock solemnity of 
manner, that he had acquired imperceptibly from constantly thinking of and 
imitating Dr. Johnson. There was something slouching in his gait and dress, that 
wore an air, ridiculously enough, of purporting to personify the same model. His 
clothes were always too large for him ; his hair or wig was constantly in a state of 
negligence ; and he never for a moment sat still or upright upon a chair. When he 
met with Dr. Johnson he commonly forbore even answering anything that was said, 
or attending to anything that went forward, lest he should miss the smallest sound 
from that voice to which he paid such exclusive homage. His eyes goggled with 
eagerness ; he leant his ear almost on the shoulder of the Doctor ; and his mouth 
dropt open to catch every syllable that might be uttered. The Doctor generally 
treated him as a schoolboy, whom without the smallest ceremony he pardoned or 
rebuked alternately." ' 

It is probable that this description is heightened by Miss 
Burney's wounded vanity. Boswell had not read her Evelina, and 
when he was reproached by Johnson with being a Brangton one 
of the characters in the novel he did not know what was meant. 
She was as careful in recording the conversation that was about 
herself as Boswell was in recording Johnson's. Her great hero 
was herself. The voices to which she paid her homage were those 
in which she was praised and flattered. 

In another place she describes " the singularity of his comic- 
serious face and manner." : He himself has more than once drawn 

1 Memoirs of Dr. Burney, ii. 191-4. * Madame d'Arblay's Diary, ed. 1843, v. 166' 


his own character. He was, he flattered himself, a citixen of the 
world; one who in his travels never felt himself from home. In 
that impudent Correspondence which he and his friend Andrew 
Erskine published when they were still almost lads, he thus 
describes himself: 

" The author of the Ode to Tragedy is a most excellent man ; he is of an ancient 
family in the west of Scotland, upon which he values himself not a little. At his 
nativity there appeared omens of his future greatness. His parts are bright; and 
his education has been good. He has travelled in post-chaises miles without 
number. He is fond of seeing much of the world. He eats of every good dish, 
especially apple-pie. He drinks old hock. He has a very fine temper. He is 
somewhat of an humorist, and a little tinctured with pride. He has a good manly 
countenance, and he owns himself to be amorous He has infinite vivacity, yet is 
observed at times to have a melancholy cast. He is rather fat than lean, rather 
short than tall, rather young than old. His shoes are neatly made, and he never 
wears spectacles." ' 

We have a later description of him again by his own hand, as 
he was at the time of his tour with Johnson. 

" Think, then (he says), of a gentleman of ancient blood, the pride of which 
was his predominant passion. He was then in his thirty-third year, and had been 
about four years happily married. His inclination was to be a soldier; but his 
father, a respectable judge, had pressed him into the profession of the law. He 
had travelled a good deal, and seen many varieties of human life. He had thought 
more than anybody supposed, and had a pretty good stock of general learning and 
knowledge. He had all Dr. Johnson's principles, with some degree of relaxation. 
He had rather too little, than too much prudence; and, his imagination being 
lively, he often said things of which the effect was very different from the intention. 
He resembled sometimes 

' The best good man, with the worst natur'd muse.' " 

Johnson celebrated his good humour and perpetual cheerful- 
ness, his acuteness, his gaiety of conversation, and civility of 
manners. " He was," he said, " the best travelling companion in 
the world." According to Burke, " his good nature was so natural 
to him that he had no merit in possessing it. A man might as well 
assume to himself merit in possessing an excellent constitution." 
Reynolds loved him so well that " he left him ,200 in his will, to 
be expended, if he thought proper, in the purchase of a picture at 
the sale of his paintings, to be kept for his sake." : In a memoir 
of him in the Scots Magazine he is described as " a most pleasant 
companion, affectionate and friendly ; but, particularly in his latter 
days, he betrayed a vanity which seemed to predominate." : Tytler 

' Boswell's Correspondence with Erskine, ed. * Boswell'sy<i/;.r0;/, i. II ; iii. 362; v. 52. 

1879, p. 36. 3 Scots Magazine, 1797, p. 292. 


praises " his sprightly fancy and whimsical eccentricity," which 
" agreeably tempered the graver conversation " of Adam Smith 
or Hugh Blair at the small and select parties given by Lord 
Kames. 1 

He was welcome everywhere but at his own father's house. 
Neither was he the better thought of by the old man on account 
of the great Englishman whom he brought with him. Everything 
however went off smoothly for a day or two, but the host and his 
<niest at length came in collision over Lord Auchinleck's collection 

> O 

of medals. The scene is thus described by Boswell, who wit- 
nessed it : 

"Oliver Cromwell's coin unfortunately introduced Charles the First and 
Toryism. They became exceedingly warm and violent, and I was very much dis- 
tressed by being present at such an altercation between two men, both of whom I 
reverenced ; yet I durst not interfere. It would certainly be very unbecoming in 
me to exhibit my honoured father and my respected friend, as intellectual gladiators, 
for the entertainment of the public ; and, therefore, I suppress what would, I dare 
say, make an interesting scene in this dramatic sketch this account of the transit 
of Johnson over the Caledonian Hemisphere." 

Ramsay of Ochtertyre says, that the year after this famous 
altercation, Lord Auchinleck " told him with warmth that the 
great Dr. Johnson, of whom he had heard wonders, was just a 
dominie, and the worst-bred dominie he had ever seen." The 
account which Sir Walter Scott gives is very dramatic, though no 
doubt somewhat embellished. 

" Old Lord Auchinleck (he writes) was an able lawyer, a good scholar, after the 
manner of Scotland, and highly valued his own advantages as a man of good estate 
and ancient family ; and, moreover, he was a strict Presbyterian and Whig of the 
old Scottish cast. This did not prevent his being a terribly proud aristocrat ; and 
great was the contempt he entertained and expressed for his son James, for the 
nature of his friendships and the character of the personages of whom he was engoi/e 
one after another. 'There's nae hope for Jamie, mon,' he said to a friend. 'Jamie 
is gaen clean gyte. 3 What do you think, mon? He's done wi' Paoli he's off wi' 
the land-louping ' scoundrel of a Corsican ; and whose tail do you think he has 
pinned himself to now, mon ? ' Here the old judge summoned up a sneer of most 
sovereign contempt. ' A dominie, mon an auld dominie : he keeped a schiile, and 
cau'd it an acaadamy." 

The full force of Lord Auchinleck's contempt is only seen 
when we understand the position of a dominie. The character of 
a schoolmaster, generally, according to Johnson, was less honour- 

1 Tytler's Life of Lor 'J frames, ii. 228. 4 Lotip is a cognate word with leap, and sig- 

2 Scotland and Scotsmen, i. 176. nifies to run. A landlouper is a runagate ; one 
'' Crazy. constantly shifting from one plate to another. 


able in Scotland than in England. 1 But the dominie, or tutor in a 
family, was still less esteemed. " He was raised," writes Sir Walter 
Scott, " from a humble class to a society where, whatever his per- 
sonal attainments might be, he found himself placed at a humiliating 
distance from anything like a footing of equality. His remunera- 
tion was scanty in the extreme, and consisting (as if to fill up the 
measure of his dependence) not entirely of a fixed salary, but 
partly of the precarious prospect of future preferment in the 
Church. The Scotch dominie was assuredly one of the most 
pitiable of human beings." : It is a curious and perhaps a some- 
what suspicious fact, that a very few years before Sir Walter 
supplied Mr. Croker with this amusing story about the old judge, 
he had put on record in the pages of the Quarterly Review the 
following anecdote : " When the old Scots judge Lord Auchinleck 
first heard of Johnson's coming to visit him at his rural castcllum, 
he held up his hands in astonishment, and cried out, ' Our Jeemy's 
clean aff the hooks now! would ony body believe it? he's bringing 
down a dominie wi' him an aulcl dominie.' " This looks like a 
different version of the same story. Moreover, Boswell tells us 
that his father had desired him to invite him to his house. When 
Johnson called his school at Lichfield an academy, he does not 
seem to have used the term pretentiously, for in his Dictionary 
he defines the word under one of its meanings as " a place of 
education in contradistinction to the universities or public schools." 
It does not seem likely, moreover, that Lord Auchinleck had any 
feeling of contempt for Pascal Paoli, a man of good family, who for 
years had headed a rebellion against the tyranny first of Genoa 
and afterwards of France. He had visited Auchinleck two years 
before Johnson, and had been well received. Boswell, writing to 
Garrick on September 18, 1771, said : " I have just been enjoying 
the very great happiness of a visit from my illustrious friend, 
Pascal Paoli. He was two nights at Auchinleck, and you may 
figure the joy of my worthy father and me at seeing the Corsican 
hero in our romantic groves. Count Burgynski, the Polish 
ambassador, accompanied him." 4 Poland's days of sending am- 
bassadors had nearly drawn to an end, for the first partition of the 
country was made in the following year. It was a strange chance 
which brought the last Corsican patriot and the last Polish ambas- 

1 Johnson's Works, ix. 158. 3 Ib. 

* Quarterly Review, No. 71, p. 225. ' Garrick Correspondence, \. 436. 


sador to this Ayrshire mansion. One thing only was wanting. 
Would that Burns that day had played truant and had wandered 
up "Lugar's winding stream" as far as Auchinleck! It would, 
indeed, have formed an interesting group the stiff old Scotch 
judge and his famous son, the great Corsican patriot and the Pole, 
with the peasant-lad gazing at them with his eyes full of beauty 
and wonder. Paoli's name is well-nigh forgotten now, but he and 
his Corsicans deeply stirred the hearts of our forefathers. Boswell, 
by a private subscription in Scotland, had sent out to him in one 
week joo worth of ordnance "a tolerable train of artillery."' 
His account of his tour in that island had been widely read. Even 
his father " was rather fond of it. ' James,' he said, ' had taken a 
tout on a new horn.' ' : Whether Lord Auchinleck abused Paoli 
" as a land-louping scoundrel of a Corsican," or admired him as he 
admired other great patriots, the rest of Sir Walter Scott's account 
of the great altercation may be true enough : 

"The controversy between Tory and Covenanter raged with great fury, and 
ended in Johnson's pressing upon the old judge the question, what good Cromwell, 
of whom lie had said something derogatory, had ever done to his country ; when, 
after being much tortured, Lord Auchinleck at last spoke out, 'God, Doctor! he 
gart kings ken that they had a lith in their neck ' he taught kings they had a. joint 
in their necks." 

This story did not, I believe, appear in print till the year 1831, 
when it was given as a note by Scott in Mr. Croker's edition of 
Boswell. Fifty years earlier it had been told in somewhat different 
words of Quin the player, who had said that "on a thirtieth of 
January every king in Europe would rise with a crick in his neck." 
Davies, who records the anecdote, says that it had been attributed 
to Voltaire, but unjustly/' It is possible, and even not unlikely, 
that we have but a Scotch version of an English saying. Cromwell 
himself, in his letter to the governor of Edinburgh Castle, had 
shown that he too saw this consequence of his great deed. " The 
civil authority," he writes, " turned out a Tyrant in a way which 
the Christians in aftertimes will mention with honour, and all 
Tyrants in the world look at with fear." x 

In one happy though impudent retort, Lord Auchinleck was 
very successful. 

" Dr. Johnson challenged him (writes Boswell) to point out any theological 

1 Letters of Boswell to Temple, p. 156. 3 Davies's Life of Garrick, ii. 115. 

1 Scotland and Scotsmen, &c., i. 172. Tout 4 Cromwell's Litters and Speeches, ed. 1857, 

is the blast of a horn. ii. 209. 


works of merit written by Presbyterian ministers in Scotland. My father, whose 
studies did not lie much in that way, owned to me afterwards, that he was some- 
what at a loss how to answer, but that luckily he recollected having read in cata- 
logues the title of Durham on the Galatians ; upon which he boldly said, ' Pray, 
Sir, have your read Mr. Durham's excellent commentary on the Galatians?' 'No, 
Sir,' said Dr. Johnson. By this lucky thought my father kept him at bay, and for 
some time enjoyed his triumph ; but his antagonist soon made a retort, which I for- 
bear to mention." 

In the long list of Durham's theological works in the British 
Museum catalogue I find no mention of this book on the Galatians. 
The old judge, it is clear, had not forgotten in the years which he 
had sat on the bench the arts of the advocate. In Rowlandson's 
Caricatures there is a humorous picture of The Contest at Auchin- 
leck. Johnson is drawn felling his opponent with a huge liturgy, 
having made him drop two books equally big, entitled Calvin and 
Wkiggism. On the floor are lying the medals over which the dis- 
pute had begun, while Boswell is at the door in an attitude of 
despair, with his Journal falling from his hands. 

One figure was wanting to make the picture complete. Of the 
three topics on which Johnson had been warned not to touch only 
two had been introduced. "In the course of their altercation," 
writes Boswell, " Whiggism and Presbyterianism, Toryism and 
Episcopacy, were terribly buffeted. My worthy hereditary friend, 
Sir John Pringle, never having been mentioned, happily escaped 
without a bruise." We could have wished that he had been men- 
tioned, for though we know of the dislike which existed between 
the two men, yet as he has never "hitched" in one of Johnson's 
strong sayings, he has scarcely attained that fame which he 

Towards Lord Auchinleck Johnson bore no resentment. With 
him the heat of altercation soon passed away, but not the memory 
of the hospitality which he had received in his house. In not a 
single word spoken or written has he attacked him. On the con- 
trary, in his Journey to the Western Islands, he only mentions him 
to praise him. When, six years later, he published the first four 
volumes of his Lives oj the Poets, he wrote to Boswell : " Write me 
word to whom I shall send sets of Lives ; would it please Lord 
Auchinleck ? " A few months after this he wrote to him : " Let 
me know what reception you have from your father, and the state 
of his health. Please him as much as you can, and add no pain to 
his last years." The old lord was not so placable. He had that 

o o 


"want of tenderness which," said Johnson, "is want of parts." 
This part of his character is seen in the following anecdote re- 
corded of him by his son : 

" I mentioned to Johnson a respectable person of a very strong mind, who had 
little of that tenderness which is common to human nature ; as an instance of which, 
when I suggested to him that he should invite his son, who had been settled ten 
years in foreign parts, to come home and pay him a visit, his answer was, ' No, no, 
let him mind his business.' JOHNSON. ' I do not agree with him, Sir, in this. 
Getting money is not all a man's business : to cultivate kindness is a valuable part 
of the business of life.' " 

He had what Boswell calls "the dignified courtesy of an old 
Baron," and when Johnson left " was very civil to him, and 
politely attended him to his post chaise." But he was not in the 
least soothed by the compliments which he paid him in his book. 
Boswell had hoped that he might be moved. Writing to Johnson 
just after it had been published, he said : " You have done Auchin- 
leck much honour, and have, I hope, overcome my father, who has 
never forgiven your warmth for monarchy and episcopacy. I am 
anxious to see how your pages will operate upon him." His 
anxious wish was grievously disappointed. A few months later he 
wrote to his friend Temple : " My father is most unhappily dis- 
satisfied with me. . . . He harps on my going over Scotland with 
a brute (think how shockingly erroneous !) and wandering (or some 
such phrase) to London. How hard it is that I am totally ex- 
cluded from parental comfort ! I have a mind to go to Auchinleck 
next autumn, and try what living in a mixed stupidity of attention 
to common objects and restraint from expressing any of my own 
feelings can do with him." * When his father and Johnson were 
both dead he indulged in the pious hope that " as they were both 
worthy Christian men, they had met in happiness. But I must 
observe," he adds, "injustice to my friend's political principles and 
my own, that they have met in a place where there is no room for 
Whiggism." Johnson, it is true, " always said the first Whig was 
the Devil," but on the other hand, some Presbyterian who drew up 
an epitaph on Lochiel, declared in it that he " is now a Whig in 
heaven." 3 

That pride in his ancient blood, which Boswell boasted was his 
predominant passion, was very strong in the old lord. In the son, 
if it really existed in any strength, it was happily overpowered by 

1 Croker's Boswell, 8vo. ed. p. 826. " Letters of Boswell to Temple, p. 207. 

3 Quarterly Review, No. 71, p. 209. 


a host of other and better feelings. He had travelled widely, he 
had seen a great variety of men, some of them among the most 
famous of their age, and had learnt to value genius without 
troubling himself about its pedigree. His successors at Auchinleck 
had something of the narrowness of the old judge. " His eldest 
son, Sir Alexander Boswell," wrote Sir Walter Scott, "was a 
proud man, and like his grandfather, thought that his father 
lowered himself by his deferential suit and service to Johnson. I 
have observed he disliked any allusion to the book or to Johnson 
himself, and I have heard that Johnson's fine picture by Sir Joshua 
was sent upstairs out of the sitting apartments." l He was not too 
proud a man to write a poem on the anniversary of the Accession 
of George IV., and what is George IV. now ? It was not from 
any dulness of mind that he did not value his father's book. " He 
had," says Lockhart, "all Bozzys cleverness, good-humour, and 
joviality, without one touch of his meaner qualities, wrote some 
popular songs, which he sang capitally, and was moreover a 
thorough bibliomaniac."' It was due to him and a friend, that the 
Burns monument at Ayr was erected. They summoned a public 
meeting, but no one attended except themselves. Little daunted 
they appointed a chairman, proposed resolutions, carried them 
unanimously, passed a vote of thanks, and issued subscription 
lists. More than ,2,000 was subscribed, and the monument was 
opened by Sir Alexander shortly before his death. That he was 
not wanting in tenderness of heart is shown by some of his poems. 
How pretty is the following verse in an address by an aged father 
to his children : 

"The auld will speak, the young maun hear, 

Be cantie, but be gude and leal ; 
Your ain ills aye hae heart to bear, 

Anither's aye hae heart to feel. 

So, ere I set, I'll see ye shine ; 

I'll see ye triumph ere I fa' ; 
My parting breath shall boast you mine 

Good night, and joy be wi' ye a'." 3 

Lockhart goes, however, too far when he exalts him in comparison 
with his father. Boswell, I feel sure, would never have been 
guilty of the act which involved his son in the unhappy duel in 
which he lost his life. In two scurrilous newspapers he had 

1 Croker's Correspondence, ii. 32. 3 C. Rogers 's Modern Scottish Minstrel, 1870, 

* Lockhart's Life of Scott, v. 336. p. 158. 


secretly defamed his kinsman, Mr. James Stuart, of Dunearn, 
"with whom he had long been on good terms." Though the 
articles were written in a disguised hand, the authorship was 
detected. He received a challenge from the injured man, and at 
the first shot fell mortally wounded. He dined with Scott a day 
or two before the duel, and " though Charles Matthews (the 
famous comedian) was present, poor Sir Alexander Boswell's 
songs, jokes, and anecdotes exhibited no symptom of eclipse." 1 

His only son, Sir James Boswell, the last male descendant of 
the author of the immortal Life, shared his father's illiberal feelings 
about Johnson. Miss Macleod of Macleod told me that when 
she was on a visit at Auchinleck, he said to her one day that he 
did not know how he should name one of his race-horses. She 
suggested Boswell's Johnsoniana, which made him very angry. 
He was, I learnt, a man of great natural ability, who, had he 
chosen, might have become distinguished. His feeling of soreness 
against his grandfather was partly due to another cause than dis- 
like of hero-worship. Boswell, in an access of that particular kind 
of folly which he called " feudal enthusiasm," had entailed his 
estates on the heirs male of his father to the exclusion of his own 
nearer female descendants. Sir James, who had no sons, saw that 
Auchinleck on his death would pass away from his daughters to his 
cousin, Thomas Alexander Boswell, Lord Auchinleck's grandson 
by his second son David. He managed to get the settlement 
upset on the plea that in the deed the first five letters of the word 
irredeemably were written upon an erasure. 2 It is not impossible 
that the lawyer who drew it up, not liking the provision, inten- 
tionally contrived this loop-hole. 

Among Boswell's male descendants, his second son James was, 
so far as I know, the only one who was not ashamed of the Life of 
JoJinson. He supplied notes to the later editions. His father, 
writing of him when he was eleven years old, says : " My second 
son is an extraordinary boy ; he is much of his father (vanity of 
vanities)." Croker describes him as "very convivial, and in 
other respects like his father though altogether on a smaller 
scale." 4 According to Lockhart, he was " a man of considerable 
learning and admirable social qualities. To him Sir Walter Scott 

1 Lord Cockburn's Memorials, pp. 380, 392, and Lockhart's Scott, vii. 33. 

2 Rogers's Bt'swelliana, p. 195, and Notes ami Queries, 3rd Series, vii. 197. 

3 Letters of Boswell to Temple, p. 315. 4 Croker's Boswell, p. 620. 


was warmly attached. He died suddenly in the prime of life, 
about a fortnight before his brother." ' 

When Boswell, at the age of twenty-seven, published his 
Account of Corsica, he boasted in his preface that "he cherished 
the hope of being remembered after death, which has been a great 
object to the noblest minds in all ages." When he saw his Life 
of Johnson reach its second edition, he said with a frankness which 
is almost touching, " I confess that I am so formed by nature and 
by habit, that to restrain the effusion of delight on having obtained 
such fame, to me would be truly painful. Why then should I 
suppress it? Why 'out of the abundance of the heart' should I 
not speak?" He goes on to mention the spontaneous praise 
which he has received from eminent persons, " much of which," he 
adds, " I have under their hands to be reposited in my archives at 
Auchinleck." How little did he foresee that his executors, with a 
brutish ignorance worthy of perpetual execration, would destroy 
his manuscripts ! If Oliver Goldsmith had had children and grand- 
children, they too, when they read of his envy and his vanity, 
when they were told that " in conversation he was an empty, noisy, 
blundering rattle," 2 might have blushed to own that they were 
sprung from the author of The Deserted Village and The Vicar of 

It is a melancholy thing that Boswell's descendants should have 
seen their famous ancestor's faults so clearly as to have been 
unable to enjoy that pride which was so justly their due, in being 
sprung from a man of such real, if curious genius. Was it nothing 
to have written the best biography which the world has ever seen ? 
Nothing to have increased more than any writer of his generation 
"the public stock of harmless pleasure ?" Nothing to have "ex- 
hibited " with the greatest skill " a view of literature and literary 
men in Great Britain for near half a century ? " Nothing to have 
been the delight of men of the greatest and most varied genius ? 
Nothing to be read wherever the English tongue is spoken, and, 
as seems likely, as long as the English tongue shall last ? Sume 
superbiam quasitam meritis, " Assume the honours justly thine," 
we would say to each one of his race. 

How widely Boswell's influence is felt is shown in a story 
which was told me by Sir Charles Sikes, the benevolent inventor 

1 Lockhart's Life of Scott, vii. 33. 

2 Macaulay's Miscellaneous Writings, ed. 1871, p. 369. 


of the Post Office Savings Banks, and no mean Johnsonian. One 
day he had gone under an archway in Fleet Street to shun a 
shower, as Burke might have gone. 1 Being " knowing and con- 
versible," he fell into talk with a sergeant of police who was also 
taking shelter, and whose tongue showed that he was an Irishman. 
He came, he said, from the west of Ireland. When he was a boy 
the parish priest had lent him a copy of the Life of Johnson. He 
had read it again and again, till at last the wish grew so strong 
upon him to see with his own eyes the scenes which in the pages 
of the book were so familiar to him, that he came to London, not 
knowing what employment he should find, but bent on seeing 
Fleet Street. What pilgrimages have not men made from the 
other side of the Atlantic to the same spots ! With their Boswell 
in their hands they have wandered by Charing Cross, "with its 
full tide of human existence ; " up the Strand, " through the greatest 
series of shops in the world ;" under Temple Bar, where Johnson's 
and Goldsmith's names did not mingle with those of the Scotch 
rebels " ; along Fleet Street, with " its very animated appearance," 
to the courts and lanes and taverns where the spirits of the men 
who gathered round the great Lexicographer seem still to linger. 
The Boswells are proud of their descent from a man who fell at 
Flodden Field. There are thousands and ten thousands of Scotch- 
men who got knocked on their heads in border forays, but only one 
who wrote the Life of Johnson. " The chief glory of every people 
arises from its authors," and among Scotch authors Sir Walter 
Scott alone equals Boswell in the extent of his popularity. The 
genius of Burns lies hidden from most Englishmen in the dialect 
in which his finest poetry is written. Never did one man of letters 
do another a more shameful wrong than when Macaulay laboured 
at the ridiculous paradox that the first of biographers was " a man 
of the meanest and feeblest intellect." He was thirty years old 
when he wrote this. Yet, to borrow Johnson's words, it was such 
stuff as a young man talks when he first begins to think himself a 
clever fellow, and he ought to have been whipped for it. The 

' Johnson imagines Burke falling into chance ' Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis. ' 
conversations on two occasions ; once on slum- when we go , , o Temple Bar h e stopped me, 
ning a shower under a shed, and another time on p O j n , e ,i to t i, e heads upon it, and slily whispered 
stepping aside to take shelter from a drove of me 
oxen. Life of fohnson, iv. 275 ; v. 34. 

"JOHNSON. I remember once being with ' Fursilan et nostltlm nomen mlscebllur ""' 
Goldsmith in Westminster Abbey. While we Jl>. ii. 238. 

surveyed the Poets' Corner I said to him, 


worst of it is that Macaulay, like Rousseau, talked his nonsense 
so well that it still passes for gospel with all those who have 
advanced as far as reading, but have not as yet attained to thinking. 
We may feel thankful that he did not with his overpowering com- 
mon sense go on to overwhelm the memory of Goldsmith. 

In the price set on autographs we have a means of measuring 
in some fashion the estimation in which men are held by posterity. 
The standard is but a rough one, however, for it is affected by the 
number of their writings which chance to have been preserved : 
judging by it, Boswell's rank is very high. There were, probably, 
few men whose career he more envied than that of Lord Bute's 
"errand-goer," Alexander Wedderburne, who rose to be Lord 
Loughborough, Earl of Rosslyn and Lord High Chancellor of 
England. Yet a letter of his I have recently seen offered for sale 
at ten shillings and sixpence, while Boswell's was marked nine 
guineas. While I exult at seeing that one author equals eighteen 
Lord Chancellors, I sometimes sigh over the high prices which 
have hitherto kept me from obtaining a specimen of the hand- 
writing of a man at whose works I have so long laboured. 

It is to be hoped that the day will at length come when those 
in whose veins Boswell's blood still flows will take that just and 
reasonable view of their famous forefather which will lead them, 
from time to time, to throw open " the rocks and woods," and even 
" the stately house " of Auchinleck to strangers from afar. It was 
he who "Johnsonised the land," and they therefore should have 
some indulgence for the enthusiasm which he created. "The 
sullen dignity of the castle with which Johnson was delighted" 
they should not keep altogether to themselves. Another famous 
man had beheld those ruins also. " Since Paoli stood upon our 
old castle," wrote Boswell to a friend, " it has an additional dignity." 
Who would not like to stand upon it also, and to see the Lugar 
running beneath, " bordered by high rocks shaded with wood ? " 
Into this beautiful stream falls " a pleasing brook," to use Johnson's 
odd description of a rivulet which has cut a deep passage through 
the sandstone. " It runs," he adds, "by a red rock, out of which 
has been hewn a very agreeable and commodious summer-house." 
I have been told that the meeting of the waters is a scene of 
striking beauty. Then there are "the venerable old trees under 
the shade of which," writes Boswell, " my ancestors had walked," 
and the groves where, as he told Johnson, it was his intention to 


erect a monument to his " reverend friend." " Sir," he answered, 
little flattered by the prospect of " a lapidary inscription," " I hope 
lo see your grand-children." Who would not gladly stroll along 
Lord Auchinleck's via sacra, " that road which he made to the 
church, for above three miles, on his own estate, through a range 
of well-inclosed farms, with a row of trees on each side of it ? " 
The avenue is composed mainly of oaks and beeches, planted 
alternately ; but the finest of the trees were brought down a few 
years ago in a great storm which swept over the country. Only 
one or two small farms remain, but there are the ruins of another. 
From the road a most pleasant view is seen, grassy slopes running 
down to the Lugar, with hedge-rows and trees growing in them 
after the English fashion. Across the river the ground rises rapidly 
in tilled fields and meadows and groves to a high range of hills. 
To the south-west lies the village of Ochiltree, whence Scott 
perhaps derived old Edie's name in the Antiquary. 

The manse still stands where Johnson dined with the Rev. 
John Dun, who had been Boswell's dominie, and had been re- 
warded for his services by the presentation to the living of 
Auchinleck. He rashly attacked before his guest the Church of 
England, and " talked of fat bishops and drowsy deans. Dr. 
Johnson was so highly offended, that he said to him, 'Sir, you 
know no more of our church than a Hottentot.' ' Dun must have 
complained to Boswell of being thus publicly likened to the pro- 
verbial Hottentot, for in the second edition of the Tour to the 
Hebrides his name is suppressed. The manse has been enlarged 
since those days, and surrounded with a delightful garden which 
might excite the envy, if not of a drowsy dean, at all events of 
a south country vicar. In the venerable minister, Dr. James 
Chrystal, who has lived there for more than fifty years, Johnson 
would have found a man " whom, if he should have quarrelled with 
him, he would have found the most difficulty how to abuse." 

The parish church where Johnson refused to attend Boswell 
and his father at public worship has been rebuilt. In the church- 
yard stands a fine old beech which might have been called venerable 
even a hundred years ago. There, too, is the vault of the Boswells 
with their coat-of-arms engraved on it, and their motto, Vraye Foy. 
In a niche cut in the solid rock lies Boswell's body. He died in 
London, at his house in Great Portland Street, but in accordance 
with the direction in his will he was buried " in the family burial- 


place in the church of Auchinleck." Though the vault is now at a 
little distance from the church, yet in the old building, which did 
not occupy precisely the same site, it was under a room at the back 
of the Boswells' pew. On a wall in the churchyard I noticed a 
curiously-carved stone with the following inscription : 


G. W. 


M. G. 










" Auchinleck," said the landlady of my inn, " is the very heart 
of the Covenanters' district." Hard by, at Airdsmoss, the founder 
of the Cameronians, with seven or eight of his followers, was slain in 
July, 1 68 1. In the churchyard lies buried a man of a very different 
type of character William Murdoch, the inventor of gas. Two of 
Boswell's tenants were James and William Murdoch. They and 
their forefathers had possessed their farms for many generations. 1 
Perhaps not only the Life of Boswell, but illumination by gas takes 
its rise from Auchinleck. 

The village consists mainly of one long street of solidly-built 
stone houses ; the older ones thatched and often white-washed, the 
modern ones slated. At the back are good gardens well stocked 
with fruit trees. Bare feet are far more common here than in the 
Highlands or Hebrides. All the children, with scarcely an excep- 
tion, and many of the women, go bare-footed. As I passed down 
the street a " roup," or sale by auction, was going on before 
the house of a deceased " baker, violin-maker, clock-mender, blood- 
letter, dentist, geologist, and collector of coins." The auctioneer, 
standing on the doorstep of this departed worthy, who at one and 

1 See Boswell's will in Rogers's fioswelliana, p. 185. 

p r 


the: same time had played many parts, dispersed his motley goods 
to the four quarters of heaven. The best of his violins, for he had 
had some of considerable value, had been sent for sale to Glasgow. 
1 stayed in the Railway Hotel, a curious old house, which 
boasted of two sitting-rooms and one bed-room. It was clean and 
comfortable, and in my courteous landlady I found a woman of 
sense and education. She quoted Sartor ficsar/us,a.nd spoke with 
anger of Mr. Fronde's Life of Carlyle. In Scotland the traveller 
finds book-learning far more generally diffused than in England. 

In Hoswell's time Auchinleck, he tells us, was pronounced 
Affleck. His grand-daughter, who died in 1836, informed Mr. 
Croker that in her time it had come to be pronounced as it is 
written. I learnt however from Dr. Chrystal that " the name 
Affleck is still quite common as applied to the parish, and even 
Auchinleck House is as often called Place Affleck as otherwise." 
A lad whom I questioned on the subject told me that the old people 
call it Affleck but the young Auchinleck. The old pronunciation 
will no doubt soon disappear. 

Boswell had been a kind landlord. Johnson, in the early days 
of their acquaintance, " had recommended to him a liberal kindness 
to his tenantry, as people over whom the proprietor was placed by 
Providence." The advice was congenial to his natural disposition. 
In his will, which he made ten years before his death, he says : " As 
there are upon the estate of Auchinleck several tenants whose 
families have possessed their farms for many generations, I do by 
these presents grant leases for nineteen years and their respective 
lives to " here follow the names of eight tenants. He continues : 
" And I do beseech all the succeeding heirs of entail to be kind to 
the tenants, and not to turn out old possessors to get a little more 
rent." We may venture to express a hope that his descendants, if 
they have slighted him as an author, have always honoured and fol- 
lowed him as a landlord. 


Leaving Auchinleck on the morning of November 8, our 
travellers arrived that night at Hamilton on the road to Edinburgh. 
They had crossed Drumclog Moor, the scene of the skirmish nearly 



one hundred years earlier where Claverhouse was beaten by the 
Covenanters. Scott in Old Mortality has told how in the fight 
John Balfour of Burley struck down Sergeant Bothwell. Fifty 
years or so after our travellers crossed the Moor, Thomas Carlyle 
and Edward Irving passed over it on foot. " It was here," says 
Carlyle, "as the sun was sinking, Irving drew from me by degrees, 
in the softest manner, the confession that I did not think as he of 

the Christian religion, and that it 
was vain for me to expect I ever 
could or should." ' Boswell's record 
of this day's journey is of the briefest. 
" We came at night to a good inn 
at Hamilton. I recollect no more." 
A writer in the Gentleman ' s Magazine 
gives us a humorous description of 
the innkeeper. " Hamilton Arms, 
kept by Burns, tolerable. The land- 
lord from pure insipidity will laugh at 
you if you come in wet through ; yet he 

can tell a good deal about the Duke's family." : Smollett gives the 
little town the highest praise in his vocabulary, by calling it "one of 
the neatest he had seen in any country. " :| Whatever nature could do, 
the force of art could no farther go last century than make a place 
neat. Boswell, before they left next morning, in vain tried to move 

1 Carlyle's Kenriniscences, eel. 1881, i. 178. " Gentleman's Magasine, 1771, \>, 545. 

J Humphry Clinker, iii. 85. 



Johnson to visit the Palace of Hamilton, as the Duke's castle is called. 
" He had not come to Scotland to see fine places of which there were 
enough in England." lie would do nothing more than view the 
outside. That same night " they arrived at Edinburgh after an 
absence of eighty-three days. For five weeks together of the tem- 
pestuous season," adds Boswell, " there had been no account 
received of us." Yet, as the crow flies, they had never at their 
farthest been two hundred miles away. How vast is the 
change since those clays ! I received the other day at my 
house in Oxford, a letter which had been posted in Bombay just 
fifteen days before. Johnson would have hurried on to London 
had he followed his own wishes. " I long to come under your 
care," he wrote to Mrs. Thrale a day or two after his arrival 
in Edinburgh, " but for some days cannot decently get away." He 
had his morning levees to hold, and his dinner and supper parties 
to attend. " ' Sir,' he said one evening, ' we have been harassed by 
invitations.' I acquiesced. ' Ay, sir,' he replied, ' but how much 
worse would it have been if we had been neglected ! ' ' There was 
one man who did not harass him. Boswell nowhere mentions 
that he visited Lord Auchinleck at his house in Parliament 

He paid a visit to New Hailes, four miles east of Edinburgh, 
the seat of Sir David Dalrymple, better known by the title of Lord 
Hailes, which he bore as one of the judges of Scotland. " Here," 
says Boswell, " we passed a most agreeable day, but," he adds, 
" again I must lament that I was so indolent as to let almost all that 


passed evaporate into oblivion." Johnson had first heard of his 
host ten years earlier. One evening, when he and Boswell were 
supping in a private room at the Turk's Head Coffee-house in the 
Strand, " he drank a bumper to Sir David Dalrymple as ' a man of 
worth, a scholar, and a wit. I have,' said he, ' never heard of him, 
except from you ; but let him know my opinion of him ; for, as 
he does not show himself much in the world, he should have the 
praise of the few who hear of him.' ' They did not meet till 
Johnson came to Edinburgh, but then they at once took to each 
other. " I love him better than any man whom I know so little," 
wrote Johnson eighteen months later. His love was no doubt in- 
creased by the decision which his friend gave a few years later in 
that famous case in which it was decided, by a majority of the 
judges, that a slave who had been brought from Jamaica to 


Scotland became thereby free. " Dear Lord Hailes was on the 
side of liberty," Johnson wrote to Boswell. 1 He would have loved 
him still more for the tenderness of heart which, unlike so many of 
his brethren, he showed on the Bench. " When called to pass 
sentence of death he addressed the unfortunate convicts in a 
pathetic, dignified strain of piety and commiseration that made 
a deep impression on the audience." : Many of the old judges, as is 
shown by the stories recorded of them, were in criminal trials little 
better than ruffians in ermine. If " robes and furred gowns hide 
all," in many a case they had far more cruelty to cover than the un- 
fortunate prisoner had been guilty of who was sent to the gallows. 
Lord Hailes, with all his kindness, was by no means faultless as a 
judge. He too often allowed his pedantry to override his good 
sense. This failing in his friend, Boswell took off in his comic poem 
The Court of Session Garland : 

" ' This cause,' cries Hailes, ' to judge I can't pretend, 
for justice, I perceive, wants an e at the end.' " 

According to Dr. Robert Chambers " a story was told of his once 
making a serious objection to a law-paper, and in consequence 
to the whole suit, on account of the word justice being thus spelt." 3 
Lord Braxfield, one of the ruffian judges, but a man of strong mind, 
"hearing him praised as a good judge, said, in his vulgar way, 
' Him ! he knows nothing but the nooks of a cause.' He was not 
without his crotchets. One day when he sat as President, he 
reprimanded a lawyer very sharply for making a ludicrous applica- 
tion of some text in the Gospels or Epistles. ' Sir,' said he, ' you 
may take liberties with the Old Testament, but I will not suffer you 
to meddle with the New.' " 4 

As an historian he had considerable merits. Johnson revised 
the proof-sheets of his Annals of Scotland, and found them "a new 
mode of history in our language." "They are very exact," he 
added, " but they contain mere dry particulars. They are to be 
considered as a Dictionary. You know such things are there, and 
may be looked at when you please." 5 Gibbon praised him as "a 
diligent collector, and an accurate critic ; " but he complained that 
when he came to criticise "the two invidious chapters" in the 
Decline and Pall, " he scrutinized each separate passage with the 

, iii. 212, 216. 4 Scotland and Scotsmen, &c., i. 397, 407. 

'* Scotland and Scotsmen, &c. , i. 398. 5 BoswelVsfofinson, ii. 383, iii. 404. 

3 Traditions of Edinburgh, ed. 1825, ii. 161. 


dry minuteness of a special pleader ; and as he was always solicitous 
to make, he may have succeeded sometimes in finding a flaw." ' 
Hume spoke of him with contempt. " He is a godly man ; feareth 
the Lord and escheweth evil, and works out his salvation with fear 
and trembling. None of the books he publishes are of his writing ; 
they are all historical manuscripts, of little or no consequence." : 
" Nothing delighted him more," writes Ramsay of Ochtertyre, 
" than to demolish some historical fabric which length of time had 
rendered venerable. I lent an old lady the first volume of his 
Annals. She was so ill -pleased with the rejection of some popular 
stories of Wallace, that she said she would drive the powder out of 
his lordship's wig if she were by him." 3 With all his critical power 
he was a believer in Ossian. Burke, who once met him at dinner, 
" found him a clever man, and generally knowing." ' 

He had been educated at Eton, and there one day had noticed a 
little black-looking boy, who had come up " to show for college, i.e., 
to stand for a scholarship on the foundation." 

" After being examined lie was found entitled to be placed high in the fourth 
form, if he could make a copy of Latin verses in a given time. As he knew nothing 
of the matter, his friend bade him throw the theme assigned him over the window 5 
in a quill, and he would convey him the verses ere they were wanted. He told the 
door-keeper to carry a pen-case to the lad under examination, who exhibited the 
theme, and was elected. For some months Dalrymple lent him his aid in versifying. 
Dr. Hallam, now Dean of Bristol and Canon of Westminster, confessed many years 
after, with tears in his eyes, that next to the providence of God he owed all that he 
had to the philanthropy of Sir David Dalrymple."" 

If, as seems likely, the examination was competitive, the boy 
who did not get the scholarship might not have taken altogether 
the same view of the matter as the pious and tearful dean. Dr. 
Hallam was the father of the historian, and the grandfather of 
Arthur Hallam. Had it not been for Lord Hailes's good-natured 
roguery the In Memoriam might never have been written. 

New Hailes, as Johnson's host told Ramsay of Ochtertyre, 
" had been first made by Mr. Smith, a Popish architect employed 
in fitting up King James's chapel at the Abbey. He planted the 
oldest trees. It was acquired by Lord Hailes's grandfather, the 
Lord Advocate, who gave it its present name." 7 We may wonder 

1 Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, ed. 1814, i. s A Scotticism for out of the imndma. See 

232. ante, p. 46. 

' Hume's Letters to Strahan, p. 74. u Scotland and Scotsmen, Sic., \. 394. 

3 Scotland ant! Scotsmen, Sic. , \. 402. ~ Scotland and Scotsmen, &c. , i. 411. 

* Burke's Correspondence, iii. 301. 



where poor Mr. Smith sought shelter that day when the news 
reached Edinburgh that James II. had fled from London. He may 
well have been in danger, for '' the rabble," writes Hurnet, " broke 
into the church of Holyrood House, which had been adorned at a 
great charge to be a royal chapel, defaced it quite, and seized on 
some that were thought great delinquents." 1 When Lord Hailes 
came into the property, " his first care was to fit up the library a 


magnificent room. The furnishing of it with an ample store of 
books was the great object of his ambition." : The library is now 
the drawing-room the most noble and learned drawing-room 
that I have ever seen, for the great and well-filled book-shelves 
still go round it from the floor almost to the lofty ceiling. If it was 
in this room that Johnson was received, no doubt he behaved as he 
did that April day, a year or two later, when he drove down to 

1 Burnet's History of his man Time, ed. 1818, ii. 443. * Scotland and Scotsmen, &c. , 1.409. 


dine with Mr. Cambridge at Twickenham. "No sooner," says 
Hoswell. " had we made our bow to Mr. Cambridge in his library 
than [ohnson ran eagerly to one side of the room, intent on poring 
over the backs of the books." Perhaps he turned to Lord Hailes, 
as he turned to Dr. Burney, on seeing his library, and said, " You 
are an honest man to have formed so great an accumulation of 

The house, like so many in Scotland, is built more after the 
continental than the English fashion. In the front is a square 
courtyard, on a level with which are the offices. The hall is reached 
by a flight of stone steps. As I came up to it a peacock was 
perched on the top. Above the door is inscribed the motto, 
Laudo mauentem. Johnson's bedroom was at one end of the house, 
on the same floor as the hall ; but as the ground is higher on this 
side, it was on a level with the llower-garden, which was just 
beneath the windows. He had also a dressing-room, whence I 
looked out on pleasant hayfields, where the haymakers were hard 
at work. All about the house are fine trees, many of them planted, 
no doubt, by the old Popish architect ; while on one side there is a 
lofty grove of beeches with a column in the middle, inscribed 

" Joanni Coniiti de Stair 

De I'atria et Principe optima merito 

Viventi positum 


The Earl of Stair was a Dalrymple. At the Jacobite rebellion in 
1745 he had been appointed Field-Marshal and Commander-in- 
Chief of the Forces in South Britain. a Horace Walpole did not 
think highly of his services at this time for, after describing in the 
November of that year how " the Prince of Wales, the night of his 
son's christening, had the citadel of Carlisle in sugar at supper, and 
the company besieged it with sugar-plums," he continues, " One 
thing was very proper; old Marshal Stair was there, who is grown 
child enough to be fit to war only with such artillery." 3 We can 
picture to ourselves Johnson walking up and down under the beech 
trees, reading the inscription, and telling how kindly he had been 
welcomed a few days earlier by the earl's sister, the Countess 
of Loudoun, an old lady, " who in her ninety-fifth year had all 
her faculties entire. This," adds Boswell, " was a very cheering 

1 Boswell's f ohnson, ii. 364. a Smollett's History of England, iii. 169. 

3 Walpole's Letters, i. 407. 



sight to Dr. Johnson, who had an extraordinary desire for long 

With such a pleasant spot as this to live at, it is not surprising 
that Lord Hailes for many years would not take a house in Edin- 
burgh, but resided constantly at New Hailes summer and winter 
" driving in every morning in session time before breakfast, and 
returning before dinner." Dr. Alexander Carlyle, who was no bad 
judge of conviviality, said, " that nowhere did he get more good 
wine or more good cracks than from Lord Ilailes." 1 Besides his 
learning and his hospitality he had, like so many of Johnson's 
Scotch friends, deserved the praise of being a good landlord. He 
did not raise his rents/ 5 On his death his will could not be found. 
He had no sons, and the heir-male was about to take possession of 
his estates to the exclusion of his daughter, Miss Hailes. She had 
made her preparations for leaving her old home, and had sent some 
of her servants to lock up his town house in New Street. As one 
of them was closing the shutters of a window the will dropped out 
upon the floor from behind a panel. It was found to secure her in 
the possession of the estates. She enjoyed them for upwards 
of forty years/' 

Johnson paid a visit also to Patrick, Lord Elibank, and stayed 
two nights " at his seat in the country." I at first thought that this 
was Darnhall, near Peebles, and accordingly visited that most 
delightful spot. But I have little doubt that it was at Ballencrieff, 
in the neighbourhood of Hacklington, where he stayed. 4 Smollett, 
when he takes Matthew Bramble through this part of the country, 
makes him say : " I intended to pay my respects to Lord Elibank, 
whom I had the honour to know at London many years ago. He 
lives in this part of Lothian, but was gone to the North on a visit. 
I have long revered him for his humanity and universal intelligence, 
over and above the entertainment arising from the originality of his 
character." 6 He was a Jacobite, and a member of that famous 
Cocoa Tree Club, which, according to Boswell, " was sacred of old 
to loyalty." The loyalty, by the way, was rather towards the third 
James than the second George. Horace Walpole tells how, after 

1 Scotland and Scotsmen, &c., i. 407. 227 ; ii. 557) it is described as the seat of the 

'- fli. t p. 413. Hon. George Murray, while Ballencrieff is men- 

3 Chambers's Trcuiilions of Edinburgh, etl. tioned as Lord Elibank's. Murray is the family 

1869. p. 145. name of the Elibanks. 

1 Darnhall is at present Lord Elibank's seat ; * Humphry Clinker, ii. 219. 

but in Paterson's British Itinerary (ed. 1800, i. 

Q Q 


Culloden, "the Duke of Cumberland gave Brigadier Mordaunt the 
Pretender's coach, on condition he rode up to London in it. ' That 
I will, Sir,' said he, ' and drive till it stops of its own accord at the 
Cocoa Tree.' " l Lord Elibank had been deeper in the cause than 
was known at the time. According to Sir Walter Scott, the 
Stuart Papers show that " he carried on a correspondence with the 
Chevalier after 1745, which was not suspected by his most intimate 
friends."" He probably was made to pay dearly for his attachment 
to the exiled family. Lord Cromartie, one of the rebel lords, 
"had been," says Walpole, "receiver of the rents of the king's 
second son in Scotland, which it was understood he should not 
account for, and by that means had six hundred pounds a year 
from the Government. Lord Elibank, a very prating, impertinent 
Jacobite, was bound for him in nine thousand pounds, for which the 
duke is determined to sue him." ; If the money was exacted, the 
loss must have been severely felt, for Elibank was somewhat parsi- 
monious. "When he heard of John Home's pension, he said, ' It 
is a very laudable grant, and I rejoice at it ; but it is no more in 
the power of the king to make John Home rich than to make me 
poor.' " ' Perhaps when he said this he was thinking how the king 
had done his best to impoverish him by exacting " the penalty and 
forfeit of his bond," and had failed. 

One day he and Dr. Robertson called on Johnson at Boswell's 
house, and the talk turned on the Rebellion, Lord Elibank, ad- 
dressing the historian, said : " Mr. Robertson, the first thing that 
gave me a high opinion of you was your saying in the Select 
Society, while parties ran high, soon after the year 1745, that you 
did not think worse of a man's moral character for his having been 
in rebellion. This was venturing to utter a liberal sentiment, while 
both sides had a detestation of each other." Such a sentiment 
must have been particularly comforting to a man who perhaps was 
still plotting treason. The Select Society had been founded in 
1754 by Allan Ramsay the painter, aided by Robertson, Hume, 
and Adam Smith. " It rubbed off all corners by collision," says 
Dr. Carlyle, "and made the literati of Edinburgh less captious and 
pedantic than they were elsewhere." ' If collision always rubbed 
off corners, there was enough between Elibank and Hume to have 

1 Walpole's Letters, ii. 32. ' Home's Works, \. 54. 

2 Quarterly Review, No. 71, p. 199. ' Dr. A. Carlylc's Autobiography, p. 298, and 

3 Walpole's Letters, ii. 40. U.Stewart's Life of Robertson, ed. 1802, p. 5. 


produced the greatest smoothness and even polish. The historian, 
in the fifth volume of his History of England, speaks of him as "a 
person that has writ an Enquiry historical and critical into the 
evidence against Mary Queen of Scots." He goes on to accuse him 
with having " almost directly called him a liar," and charges him in 
his turn with being guilty of " scandalous artifices." He concludes 
with that well-known passage, in which he maintains that " there 
are indeed three events in our history which may be regarded as 
touchstones of party-men. An English Whig, who asserts the 
reality of the Popish Plot, an Irish Catholic, who denies the mas- 
sacre in 1641, and a Scotch Jacobite, who maintains the innocence 
of Queen Mary, must be considered as men beyond the reach of 
argument or reason, and must be left to their prejudices." 1 In a 
letter to Robertson, written some years earlier than this note, 
Hume says : " I desire my compliments to Lord Elibank. I hope 
his lordship has forgot his vow of answering us, and of washing 
Queen Mary white. I am afraid that is impossible; but his lord- 
ship is very well qualified to gild her."' Hume, with all his good 
nature, was not a little touchy, and perhaps took offence where no 
offence was meant. Lord Elibank had been " the early patron of 
Robertson and Home, the tragick poet, who when they were 
ministers of country parishes, lived near his seat. He told me,"' 
continues Boswell, " ' I saw these lads had talents, and they were 
much with me.' I hope they will pay a grateful tribute to his 
memory." According to Dr. Carlyle, they found a far better way 
of showing their gratitude, for " they cured him of his contempt for 
the Presbyterian clergy, made him change or soften down many of 
his original opinions, and prepared him for becoming a most 
agreeable member of the Literary Society of Edinburgh, among 
whom he lived during the remainder of his life, admiring and 
admired." 3 Besides his Enquiry, he published several other " small 
pieces of distinguished merit," according to Boswell. National 
Debts and the Currency were among the subjects of which he 
treated. 4 Dr. Carlyle describes him as " rather a humourist than 
a man of humour ; one who defended paradoxes and uncommon 
opinions with a copiousness and ingenuity that was surprising." 
This part of his character would have endeared him to Johnson, 
who liked a tavern because, as he said, " wine there prompts me 

1 History of England, ed. 1773, v. 504. 3 Dr. A. Carlyle's Autobiography, p. 267. 

'* Robertson's Works, ed. 1802,. v. 46. ' Horace Walpole's Letters, ix. 103. 

:? oo LORI) KL1HANK. 

to free conversation, and an interchange of discourse with those 
whom I most love ; I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this 
conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight." ' Though 
Johnson was fon'd of his society, and once said "that he was never 
in his company without learning something," yet speaking of him 
on another occasion he said, " Sir, there is nothing conclusive in 
his talk." Lord Elibank's admiration of Johnson was very high. 
Yet he need not have gone so far as to flatter him at the expense of 
his own country. Having missed seeing him on his first visit to 
Edinburgh, he wrote to Boswell : " I could not persuade myself 
there was anything in Scotland worthy to have a summer of 
Samuel Johnson bestowed on it ; but since he has done us that 
compliment, for heaven's sake inform me of your motions. I will 
attend them most religiously, and though I should regret to let 
Mr. Johnson go a mile out of his way on my account, old as I am, 
I shall be glad to go five hundred miles to enjoy a day of his com- 
pany." Johnson, in his plain truthfulness, on the very day on 
which Lord Elibank wrote this extravagant letter, said that " he 
would go two miles out of his way to see Lord Monbodclo." As 
five hundred to two, so perhaps was Johnson's accuracy of talk to 
Lord Elibank's. To the mean way in which his lordship spoke of 
Scotland, as if it were beneath the great Englishman's notice, I 
much prefer the spirit of his countryman, who, according to 
Boswell, " would say of Dr. Johnson, ' Damned rascal ! to talk as 
he does of the Scotch !" However, he had none of that small- 
ness of mind common enough among the high-born, which would 
not let him enjoy Johnson's strong talk. He was "one of the 
great who sought his society. He well observed that if a great 
man procured an interview with him, and did not wish to see him 
more, it showed a mere idle curiosity, and a wretched want of 
relish for extraordinary powers of mind." Such an idle curiosity 
and such a wretched want of relish were shown by George III. 

The old house at Ballencrieff, in which Johnson "passed two 
nights and dined thrice," as Boswell accurately records, is now a 
melancholy ruin. It was burnt down about twenty years ago. 
For many years previously, deserted by its owners, it had been 
left in the care of a woman who lived in an outbuilding, which in 
the old days had formed the kitchen. It was here, I believe, that 

1 When I had the honour of meeting Mr. he quoted this passage in his strong deep voice, 
Gladstone in his visit to Oxford early this year, and praised it highly. 




were prepared those " performances of a nobleman's French cook 
which so much displeased Johnson, that he exclaimed with ve- 
hemence, ' I'd throw such a rascal into the river.' " l Though the 
flames no longer roared up the chimney as they had done for many 
a long year, still a fire was kept up and soot accumulated. One 
day the old woman tried to get rid of it by setting it alight, a 
primitive mode of chimney-sweeping not uncommon in that part of 
the country. A spark, it is conjectured, was carried into the main 
building through a broken pane, and falling on some straw brought 
in by the birds who nested there, set an upper room on fire. The 
summer had been unusually dry. The flames spread rapidly from 
one end of the house to the other ; so fierce was the blaze that a 
large beech-tree which stood at some little distance was burnt also. 
Part of the house is evidently of considerable antiquity, being very 
solidly built, with vaulted chambers and walls many feet in thick- 
ness. In the year 1625, as I 
judge from an inscription on 
the wall, great additions were 
made. It is pleasantly placed, 
with meadow-land on three 
sides, and at a little distance 
from a fine range of hills, which 
boasts of a Roman camp and BALLENCRIEFF. 

of a lofty column to one of 

Wellington's generals. So strangely do the ages mingle here. 
From the upper windows on a clear day a delightful view must 
have been enjoyed of the Forth, with the little island of Inch 
Keith and the hills of Fife beyond. Near the house there is a 
row of yew-trees which could not have looked young in Johnson's 
time, and holly hedges leading up to it, between which, perhaps, 
he walked, for they too look old. The land is in the occupation of 
a market-gardener, who cultivates it with a success which would 
have won his praise, and made him allow that something beside 
the sloe is brought to perfection in Scotland. The whole district 
abounds in fruitful gardens and orchards, and fine plantations of 
trees. As I looked at the luxuriance of growth, and meditated on 
the change that had been wrought in a century and a quarter, I 
thought that to Johnson, who had shown the nakedness of the land, 
a grateful and penitent people, who had profited by his exhorta- 

1 At BallencriefF there is no river, but perhaps Johnson was thinking of the Firth of Forth. 


tions, should raise a memorial as the god of gardens. According 
to a tradition which has come down to our time, a group of ash- 
trees was planted by Lord Elibank on his suggestion. 1 Planting 
had begun earlier than he thought. " It may be doubted," he said, 
"whether before the Union any man between Edinburgh and 
England had ever set a tree." The market-gardener told me that 
he hail counted one hundred and ninety rings on some tall trees 
near the house, which had been cut down fourteen years before. 
This would show that they were planted not only before the Union, 
but also before the Revolution, for though a ring marks the growth 
of a year, yet in an old tree many of the rings cannot be dis- 

As I wandered about the ruins, and listened to the jackdaws 
chattering overhead " with nothing conclusive in their talk," how 
much I regretted that Boswell's indolence had kept him from 
recording the conversation which passed here in those three 
November days between the old Jacobite lord and his famous 

Johnson's tour was rapidly drawing to a close. Brundusium 

is at hand. 

"Brundusium longre finis chartaeque viaeque." 2 

He wrote from Edinburgh to Mrs. Thrale on Thursday, No- 
vember 1 8 : "I long to be at home, and have taken a place in the 
coach for Monday ; I hope, therefore, to be in London on Friday, 
the 26th, in the evening. Please to let Mrs. Williams know." On 
Saturday he accepted the invitation of Sir John Dalrymple, a cousin 
of Lord Hailes, and author of Memoirs of Great Britain and 
Ireland, to visit him at his house at Cranston, twelve miles from 
Edinburgh on the middle road to Newcastle. There he was to be 
taken up by the London coach. Three years earlier Boswell had 
described Dalrymple as "a very knowing, lively companion ;" 3 but 
his feelings towards him were changed. He had not worshipped 
the image which he had set up. Nevertheless, " he was am- 
bitious," Boswell writes, "of having such a guest; but as I was 
well assured, that at this very time he had joined with some of his 
prejudiced countrymen in railing at Dr. Johnson, and had said, he 

1 This interesting tradition comes to me from 2 " From thence our travels to Brundusium 

my friend General Cadell, C.H., of Cocken/.ie bend, 

House, to whom I am indebted for the accom- Where our long journey and my paper end." 

panying sketch of the trees. FRANCIS'S Horace, i. Sat. v. 103. 

' Letters of Boswell to Temple, p. 168. 


wondered how any gentleman of Scotland could keep company 
with him, I thought he did not deserve the honour ; yet, as it 
might be a convenience to Dr. Johnson, I contrived that he 
should accept the invitation, and engaged to conduct him." The 
convenience consisted in the fact that, as his house was on the 
London roacl, Johnson would not have to rise so early by two 
hours to catch the coach. Dalrymple had lately made a good deal 
of stir both in the world of literature and politics by the publication 
of his Memoirs. From these it had been learnt for the first time 
that Algernon Sidney had been a pensioner of the King of France. 
Horace Walpole had been roused to anger by the exposure of a 
man whose memory he revered. " Need I tell you," he wrote to 
Mason, "that Sir John Dalrymple, the accuser of bribery, was 
turned out of his place of Solicitor of the Customs for taking bribes 
from brewers ?"' Hume was astonished at " the rage against him, 
on account of the most commendable action in his life," but he 
despised "his ranting, bouncing style." Johnson had an equal 
contempt for it, calling it " his foppery." Boswell records in the 
spring of the year : 

" I mentioned Sir John Dalrymplu's Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland, and 
his discoveries to the prejudice of Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney. JOHNSON. 
' Why, Sir, every body who had just notions of government thought them rascals 
before. It is well that all mankind now see them to be rascals. . . . This 
Dalrymple seems to be an honest fellow ; for he tells equally what makes against 
both sides. But nothing can be poorer than his mode of writing, it is the mere 
bouncing of a schoolboy : Great He ! but greater She ! and such stuff.' " 

In describing the last scene between Lord and Lady Russell he 
had said, " they parted for ever he great in this last act of his life, 
but she greater." 3 

His portrait, which I saw in the Loan Exhibition of the Scottish 
National Portrait Gallery, shows a cold conceited face. Dr. Carlyle 
gives an unpleasing account of him. After recounting how at 
a dinner he had once had " to divide a haunch of venison among 
fifteen without getting any portion of fat for himself," he continues, 
" But what signifies that, when you have an opportunity of obliging 
your friends ? as Sir J. Dalrymple said to me one day when we 
had a haunch at the Poker, flattering me for a good piece, for 
he was a gourmand." ' How must the indignation of this flattering 

1 Walpole's Letters, v. 441. :! Boswell's Johnson, ii. 210. 

* Letters of Hume to Stratum, pp. 174, 265. ' Dr. A. Carlyle's Autobiography, p. 437. 


glutton have been excited at the careless and even rude treatment 
which he received from our travellers, who had engaged to dine 
with him on the day they left Edinburgh ! They were very late in 
starting, for Johnson in his good-nature had let himself be detained 
"by young Mr. Tytler who came to show some essays which 
he had written." They did not leave till one o'clock, and then 
Hoswell insisted on their going to see Rosslyn Castle and the Chapel. 
They dined and drank tea at the inn. As if this were not enough, 
and as if no baronet were waiting dinner, they next went to Haw- 
thornden, and "had Rare Ben in mind" who one hundred and 
forty-three years earlier had there visited the poet Drummond. " It 
was very late," writes Hoswell, "before we reached the seat of Sir 
John Dalrymple, who, certainly with some reason, was not in very 
good humour. Our conversation was not brilliant. We supped, and 
went to bed in ancient rooms, which would have better suited the 
climate of Italy in summer, than that of Scotland in the month of 
November." Dalrymple was alive when this account was published. 
Not finding their quarters to their mind they went on next evening 
two miles further to the inn at Blackshields. Pennant, who had 
passed a night there in September of the previous year, 
describes " the country as good, full of corn, and decked with 
numbers of small woods. The inn is good."' Just one year and 
two days before our travellers arrived there, on November 19, 1772, 
one Mr. John Scott of Newcastle had married, in this same village 
and most probably in the inn, pretty Miss Elizabeth Surtees. She 
had escaped by a ladder from her father's house and had run with 
him across the Border. He was twenty-one and she eighteen. 
" Jack Scott," said a friend on hearing of it, " has run off with Bessy 
Surtees, and the poor lad is undone." In the end he became Lord 
Chancellor and Earl of Eldon. The certificate of marriage shows 
that the ceremony was performed in the presence of James and 
Thomas Fairbairn. From a paper in the Gentleman's Magazine I 
know that Fairbairn was the innkeeper's name. 

On the morning of Monday, November 22, the coach took up 
Johnson and off he drove homewards. On the following Saturday 
he wrote to Boswell from London : " I came home last night, 
without any incommodity, danger, or weariness, and am ready 
to begin a new journey. I shall go to Oxford on Monday." There 

1 7'ottr in Scotland, ed. 1776, ii. 259, 260. 

* Twiss's Life of Lord Eldon, ed. 1846, i. 57, and the Gentleman's Magazine, 1771, p. 543. 



he met Mr. John Scott and his young bride, and perhaps compared 
notes about Blackshields and the Newcastle road. 1 To his friend, 
Dr. Taylor, he wrote that " he had traversed the east coast of 
Scotland from south to north, from Edinburgh to Inverness, and 



the west-coast from north to south, from the Highlands to 

" The time he spent in his Tour, was," he often said, " the 

1 Boswcll's Johnson, ii. 268. 

* The original letter of which a facsimile is given is in my possession. See Appendix B. 

R R 


pleasantest part of his life." I tot) have rarely spent my time more 
pleasantly than when 1 was following his traces both in that 
beautiful country through which he wandered, and in those old 
books in which still live the people, the manners, and the Scotland 
which he saw. 


(Pages 1 8 and 117.) 


IBERDONIvE vigesimo tertio Die mensis August! 1773 put 
[in praesentia] magistratuum. Quo Die vir generosus ac 
Doctrina Clarus Samuel Johnson LL.D. receptus et admissus 
fuit in municipes et fratres GuilcUc pr.tfati Burgi de Aber- 
deen in dcditissimi afiectus et amoris ac eximiai observantia; 
tesseram quibus dicti magistratus ilium amplectuntur." 



(I'iijie 305.) 



'HEN I was at Edinburgh I had a letter from you, telling me 
that in answer to some enquiry you were informed that I was 
in the Sky. I was then I suppose in the western islands of 
Scotland ; I set out on the northern expedition August 6, 
and came back to Fleet-street, November 26. I have seen a 
new region. 

" I have been upon seven of the islands, and probably should have visited 
many more, had we not begun our journey so late in the year, that the 
stormy weather came upon us, and the storms have I believe for about five 
months hardly any intermission. 

" Your Letter told me that you were better. When you write do not 
forget to confirm that account. I had very little ill health while I was on 
the journey, and bore rain and wind tolerably well. I had a cold and deaf- 
ness only for a few days, and those days I passed at a good house. I have 
traversed the east coast of Scotland from south to north from Edinburgh to 
Inverness, and the west coast from north to south, from the Highlands to 
Glasgow, and am come back as I went, 

" Sir, 
" Your affectionate humble servant, 

"/ 15, 1774- 

" To the Reverend Dr. Taylor, 
"in Ashbourn, 

" Derbyshire." 

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105-7, 190. 

Aberdeen, 115-123; free- 
dom of the city, 1 8, 116; 
population, 118; King's 
College, 120; Maris- 
chal College, no, 121 ; professors, 122 

Academy, 279. 

Adams, Rev. Dr. William, 66. 

Addison, Joseph, 5, 62. 

Airdsmoss, 289. 

Allan of Muidart, 173. 

Amuse, 245. 

Anderson, Rev. John, 97. 

Anoch, 153. 

Arbroath. See ABERP.ROTHICK. 

Arbuthnot, Dr., 89. 

Ardnamurchan, 5, 214. 

Ardvoirlich, 254. 

Argyle, Archibald, second Earl of, 141. 

Argyle, Archibald, ninth Earl of, 217, 249. 

Argyle, Archibald, Marquis of, 250. 

Argyle, Elizabeth Gunning, Duchess of, 
247, 249-252, 256. 

Argyle, Jane, Countess of, 250. 

Argyle, John, second Duke of, 251. 

Argyle, John, fifth Duke of, 227, 246- 

Armidale, 23, 167, 214. 

Auchans, 268. 

Auchinleck, Lord, 18, 56, 62, 74, 79, 80, 

115, 146, 189, 234, 271-288, 292. 
Auchinleck, 271-290; house, 273-5; ld 

castle, 287 ; viasacra, manse, church, 288 ; 

village, 289 ; pronounced Affleck, 290. 

Auchnacraig, 242. 
Auchnashcal, 144, 161. 
Authors, 60-3, 66. 

Bagpipes, 243. 

Ballencrieff, 297. 

Balliol College, 84. 

Banff, 129. 

Banks, Sir Joseph, 24. 

Bare feet, 289. 

Baronial turrets, 113. 

Bathing, 112. 

Bayle, Peter, 19. 

Beaton, Cardinal, 94, 97. 

Beattie, Rev. Dr. James, 13, 14, 28, 62,123. 

Beauclerk, Topham, 66. 

Bedford, Duke of, 29. 

Beggars, 43. 

Bellhaven, Lord, 39, 79. 

Bentham, Jeremiah, 71. 

Berkeley, Bishop, 92. 

Berkeley, G. M., 92, 100, 117. 

Bernera, 165. 

Black, Adam, 77. 

Black, Mr. Angus, 241. 

Black Spring of 1771, 187. 

Blacklock, Dr. Thomas, 75. 

Blackshields, 304. 

Blair, Rev. Dr. Hugh, 10, 14, 63, 65, 74, 

81, 122, 278. 
Boats, 171. 
Boswell, Alexander (the author's father). 

Boswell, Sir Alexander (the author's eldest 

son), 283. 



Boswell, David (the author's brother), 

282, 284. 

Boswell, James (author of The Life of 
Johnson], activity, 105, 178; ancestry, 
272 ; autograph, 287 ; Court of Session 
Garland, 293 ; descendants, 283-7 ; 
described by Miss Burney, 276 ; and 
by himself, 277; drunk, 4, 168, 213; 
facility of manners, 272; family pride, 
282; fear of ghosts, 205; feudal enthu- 
siasm, 284 ; funeral, 288 ; good land- 
lord, 290; indifference to scenery, 86, 
275 ; interested in the Douglas cause, 
56, 247, 272; Life of Johnson, 285-6; 
love of London, 149; manuscripts, 
285 ; mentioned by Burns, 267 ; no 
memorial of him, 77 ; praises savage 
life, 261; pronunciation, 63; Tour to 
Corsica, 280, 285 ; will, 284, 290. 

Boswell, James (the author's grandfather), 

Boswell, James (the author's second son), 

Boswell, Sir James (the author's grand- 
son), 284. 

Boswell, Thomas Alexander, 284. 

Boswell, Veronica (the author's eldest 
daughter), 75. 

Boswell, Mrs. (Lord Auchinleck's second 
wife), 271. 

Boswell, Mrs. (the author's wife), 55, 75, 
220, 267. 

Boswell family, 286. 

Bothwell, Earl of, 69. 

Boyd, Hon. Charles, 128. 

Boyd, James, 69. 

B rax field, Lord, 293. 

Breadalbane, Lord, 34. 

Breakfasts, 20. 

Brentford, 263. 

Brett, John, R.A., 207. 

Brighton, 123, 199. 

Broadford, 3, 167, 169-171. 

Bruar Water, 24, 33. 

Bruce, King Robert, 258. 

Buccleugh, fifth Duke of, 77. 

Buchanan, George, 37, 91, 200. 

Bullers of Buchan, 128. 

Burgynski, Count, 279. 

Burke, Edmund, 66, 76, 263, 277, 286, 294. 

Burlassig, 150. 

Burnet, Bishop, 295. 

Burney, Dr., 296. 

Burney, Miss, 276. 

Burns, Robert, Bruar Water, 24, 33 ; Ayr- 
shire scenery, 31; Scotch militia, 64; 
Holyrood House, 85 ; Miss Burnet, 
112 ; Inverary, 246; Earnest Cry and 
Prayer, 267; "Lugar's winding stream," 
280; monument, 283; his genius hidden 
by his dialect, 286. 

Bury, Lord, 145. 

Bute, Earl of, 37. 

Byron, Lord, 25. 

Cadell, General, C.B., 302, n. \. 

Cambridge, R. O., 296. 

Camden, William, 27, 97, 264, 268. 

Cameron, 260. 

Cameron of Lochiel, 144, 282. 

Cameron, Mrs., of Talisker, 210. 

Cameronians, 289. 

Campbell, Rev. Dr. Archibald, 90, n. 2. 

Campbell, Sir Hugh, 142. 

Campbell, Dr. John, 14. 

Campbell of Inverliver, 141. 

Campbell of Treesbank, 267. 

Campbell, , 4, n. 2. 

Candles, 4. 

Canning, George, 117. 

Carlisle, fifth Earl of, 26. 

Carberry Hill, 69. 

Carlyle, Rev. Dr. Alexander, 43, 65, 69, 

265, 297-9, 303. 
Carlyle, Jane Welsh, 96, 118. 
Carlyle, Thomas, 39, 52, 68, 79, 86, 88, 

89, 202, 291. 
Caroline, Queen, 48. 
Cathedrals, 133. 
Caves, 205-6, 226. 
Cawdor, 135-142. 
Cawdor, Earl of, 141. 
Chamberlain, 251. 
Chambers, Sir Robert, 68. 
Chambers, Dr. Robert, 97, 236, 269, 

2 93- 

Chambers, William, 77. 
Change-house, 219. 
Chapels, 118. 
Charles I., 278, 280. 


Charles II., 250. 

Charles Edward, Prince, the Young Pre- 
tender, 53, 64, 119-20, 179, 182-84, 
206, 269. 

Charlotte, Queen, 77. 

Chatham, Earl of, 64, 171, 231. 

Chesterfield, Earl of, 15, n. 3, 274, n. i. 

Chrystal, Rev. Dr. James, 288, 290. 

Churches, 43, 81, 108, 176. 

Civility, 19. 

Clan feeling, 259. 

Clarke, Rev. Dr. Samuel, 19. 

Climate, 20, 30. 

Clow, Professor, 263. 

Coaches, 264. 

Coal, 262. 

Cockburn, Lord, 58, 59, 80, 81. 

Cockburn, Sheriff, 56. 

Cockers Arithmetic, 154. 

Cocoa Tree Club, 297. 

Col, Isle of, 24, 214-6, 236. 

Col, Macleane of. See MACLEANE. 

Coleridge, S. T., 162. 

Colliers, 69, 236, 259. 

Colman, George, 117. 

Colquhoun, Sir James, 257. 

Colvay, 217. 

Commissary Court, 261. 

Coote, Sir Eyre, 142. 

Copyright, 61. 

Corrichatachin, 4, 21, 167-70, 212. 

Corsica, 201, 204, 280. 

Court of Session, 78. 

Court of Session Garland, 293. 

Covenanted magistrates, 275. 

Coventry, Countess of, 248, 250. 

Cox, G. V., 117. 

Craig, James, 57. 

Craigie, Lord President, 58. 

Craignure, 4, 233. 

Cranston, 302. 

Cromartie, Earl of, 298. 

Cromwell, Oliver, 35,68, 145, 250, 278. 

Crosbie, Andrew, 64. 

Cuchullin Hills, 204. 

Culloden, 60, 127, 142, 146, 152, 155, 298. 

Cumberland, Richard, 190. 

Cumberland, William, Duke of, 27, 102, 
118, 123, 129, 142-6, 152, 155, 171, 

Cunninghame, 268. 
Cupar, 88. 

! Dalrymple, Sir David. See LORD HAILEH. 
. Dalrymple, Sir John, 63, 302-4. 
| Dancing, 178. 

Darnhall, 297. 

Davies, Thomas, 280. 

Defoe, Daniel ; 34,36, 51, 99, 107, 131, 
145, 264. 

DC Hipster, 235. 

Dempster, George, 8. 

Dinner-hour, 65. 

Discounts, 98. 

Doge of Genoa, 23. 

Dominies, 278. 

Douglas, Duchess of, 63. 

Douglas, Elizabeth, 113. 

Douglas Cause, 56, 247, 272. 

Drinking, 91. 

Drumclog Moor, 290. 

Drummond of Hawthornden, 304. 

Drummond, George, of Blair, 35, 44 n. 3. 

Drummore, Lord, 58. 

Dryden, John, 109. 

Dun, Rev. John, 288. 

Dun Buy, 129, 238. 

Dun Can, 2, 177. 

Dunbar, 68. 

Dunbarton, 262. 

Dundas, Henry. See VISCOUNT MKL- 


Dundee, 12, 105. 
Dundee, Marquis of, 109. 
Dundonald Castle, 267, 270. 
Dungeons and pits. 198, 234-9. 
Dunolly Castle, 244. 
Dunvegan, 1-3, 19, 184-204, 235. 
Durham, 87. 

Durham on the Galatians, 281. 
Dutch Scotch Regiments, 209. 

Edinburgh, Advocates' Library, 80 ; Bridge, 
58; Cadies, 54; Castle, 85 ; Chessel's 
Buildings, 72 ; College VVynd, 82 ; 
Cowgate, 82; Cross, 53, 81 ; English 
residents, 37; Grass Market, 53 ; Guard 
House, 78 ; hackney coaches, 65 ; High 
Street, 51-4; Holyrood House, 77, 85, 
295; hotbed of genius, 9 ; houses, 45 ; 

3 I2 


inns and taverns, 45, 49-51; 69-72; 
James's Court, 57, 67, 72-7; Laigh 
Parliament House, 80 ; Luckenbooths, 
52, 78; Mound, 58; New Town, 57, 
59 ; Parliament-House, 78 ; Pleasance, 
50 ; poor, 42 ; Post-House Stairs, 
82 ; printing-houses, 61 ; robberies, 
54 ; Royal Infirmary, 84 ; scavengers, 
46 ; " Scotch scene," 60 ; Sedans, 65 ; 
Select Society, 48, 298; St. David's 
Street, 57; St. Giles, 81 ; St. John's 
Street, 113; Stage-coaches, 60, 123 n. 
4, 264 ; Sunday, 53 ; suppers, 65 ; 
Tolbooth, 53, 78 ; University, 58, 83 ; 
Weigh House, 78; White Horse Inn, 
68-72 ; workhouse, 43, 85. 

Edwards, Oliver, 196. 

Eglinton, Earl of, 35. 

Kglington, Dowager Countess of, 268-70. 

Eilan Donan Castle, 158. 

Eldon, Earl of, 304. 

Eldon, Countess of, 190, 304. 

Elgin, 3 6 . I 3-4- 

Elibank, Patrick, Lord, 42, 65, 74, 75, 

8 5> 297-3 02 - 
Ellon, 124. 
Emigration, 162, 176. 
Epictetus, 214. 
Errol, Earl of, 49, 124-27. 
Erse, 135, 147, 218, 266. 
Erskine, Hon. Andrew, 277. 
Erskine, Hon. Henry, 78. 
Erskine, John, 55 n. i. 
Eton, 294. 
Executions, 53. 

Fairbairn, James, 304. 

Faochag, 160. 

Farming, 32, 34. 

Farms, small, 112. 

Fergusson, Dr. Adam, 9, 63, 65. 

Ferneley, 206. 

Fielding, Sir John, 54. 

Findlater, Lord, 130. 

Firth of Tay, 104. 

Fleet Street, 275, 286. 

Foote, Samuel, m. 

Forbes, Sir William, 76. 

Fore-stairs, 92. 

Fores, 134. 

Forrest, Henry, 93. 

Fort Augustus, 143, 148, 152, 162. 

Fort George, 142. 

Foster-children, 4. 

Foyers, 130, 150-51. 

Franklin, Benjamin, 74, 77. 

Frederick, Prince of Wales, 296. 

Freedom of towns, 117. 

Fronde, Mr. J. A., 217, 290. 

Funeral bill, 131. 

Funerals, 227, 241. 

Furca et fossa, 235. 

Gaelic. See ERSE. 

Garden, Francis (Lord Gardenstone), 109. 

Gardens, 32, 35, 42, 105, 169, 175-76, 

190, 210, 240, 301 
Gardenstone Arms, 109. 
Garnett, Dr. T., 150, 161, 229, 232, 242. 
Garrick, David, 76. 
Geddes, Jenny, 81. 
General's Hut, 150. 
George I., 69. 

George II., 48, 101, 127, 144. 
George III., 115, 120, 127, 300. 
George IV., 77, 283. 
Giant's Causeway, 211. 
Gibbon, Edward, 67, 230, 293. 
Gladstone, Right Hon. W. E., 81, n. i, 

300, . i. 

Glamis Castle, 173. 
Glasgow, 94, 117, 123, 198, 262-66. 
Glen, 157. 

Glen Clunie, 156-57. 
Glen Croe, 5, 13, 253-55. 
Glen Elg, 10, 20, 163-67. 
Glen Morison, 2, 19, 153. 
Glen Shiel, 156-60. 
Goat Island, 174. 
Goldsmith, Oliver, 3, 32, 33, 49, 244, 


Golf, 9, n. i, 98. 
Graham, Marquis of, 172. 
Graham, Peter, R.A., 207. 
Grant, Colonel, 136. 
Grant, Rev. Mr., 136, 137. 
Grants of Glenmorison, 155. 
Gray, Thomas, 26, 28,33, 45 6 , 47. I2 3, 

143, 173- 


Green, Matthew, 103. 

Gunning, Elizabeth. &MRGYLE, DUCHESS 


Gustavus Adolphus, 113. 

Hackney-coaches, 65. 

Haddington, 43, 68. 

Hailes, Lord (Sir David Dairy mple), 8, 14, 

80, 132, 292-97. 
Hailes, Miss, 297. 
Hallam, Arthur, 294. 
Hallam, Dean, 294. 
Hamilton, 290. 
Hamilton, Duke of, 248. 
Hamilton, Lady Betty, 251. 
Hamilton, Patrick, 93. 
Hamilton of Bangour, 269. 
Hawthornden, 304. 
Hebridean sailors, 21. 
Hedges, 16, 109. 

Henderson, Andrew, 144, 155, 171. 
Hereditary Jurisdictions, 197, 228, 234- 


Heronry, 200. 

Hesiod, 95. 

Highlands and Hebrides, air, 25 ; books, 
168 ; chiefs, 228; dress, 171-73, 181- 
82, 203, 255 ; fidelity of Highlanders, 
183; like Indians, 154, 161; " banditti," 
165 ; unknown, 24. 

Hill, Mr. Frederick, 265. 

Hill, Sir Rowland, 170. 

Holland, 272, 274. 

Home, John, 10, 39, 63, 298-99. 

Honest man, 169. 

Hottentots, 15, n. 3, 288. 

Houses, 15, 21, 32, 42, 45, 170, 177, 220, 
229, 240, 296. 

Hudibras, 138. 

HUME, DAVID, ill-will to England, 7 ; bene- 
fits of the Union, 39 ; house, 57,66,74- 
77 ; in the mire, 59 ; journey to London, 
59 ; accent, 62, 67 ; copy-money, 63 ; 
Poker Club, 64 ; cookery, 66; "infidel 
writer," 66 ; conversation, 67 ; father's 
house, 68 ; no statue, 77 ; Advocates' 
Librarian, 80 ; dread of the sea, 87 ; 
Reynolds's picture, 123; Clow preferred 
to him, 263 ; Lord Hailes, 294 ; Select 

Society, 298 ; Mary, Queen of Scots, 
299 ; Dalyrymple's Memoirs, 303. 
Humphry Clinker, 38. 

Iceland, 23. 

Inch Galbraith, 257. 

Inch Keith, 85. 

Inch Kenneth, 6, 218, 221-25. 

Innes, Rev. Dr., 90, n. 2. 

Inns, 49, 69, 89, 151, 165, 180, 219, 229, 

245-46, 262, 304. 
Inverary, 232, 245-53, 257. 
Invermoriston, 152. 
Inverness, 137, 142-48. 
lona, 214, 226-31. 
' Ireland, 64. 
Irish people, 14. 
Irvine, Robert, 113. 
Irving, Edward, 86, 88, 291. 
Irving, Mr. Henry, 140. 
Isa, 174, 199. 
Isle of Muck, 199. 

James IV., 120. 

James V., 180. 

James VI., 135. 

James II. of England, 182, 250, 295. 

Jardine, Rev. Dr., 65. 

Jeffrey, Francis (Lord Jeffrey), 33, 62 . 

9. 256. 

Johns of Scotland, The Four, 158. 

Johnson Club, 160, 173. 

Johnson, Michael, 23. 

JOHNSON, SAMUEL, affection for Boswell, 
272 ; altercation with Lord Auchinleck, 
278-281 ; behaviour at Dunvegan, 188 ; 
broad-sword, 24 ; never complained, 
20; complimented on his return, 22 ; 
cups of tea, 189, 204; dangers of his 
voyage, 21 ; delicate in his language, 
1 96 ; Dictionary, 168; dominie, 278; 
dread of the Highlanders, 154, 161 ; 
dukes and lords, 270 ; Erse New Testa- 
ment, 266; feared by professors, 122, 
263 ; fresh air, 47 ; fretful, 164; harasssed 
by invitations, 292 ; hatred of exaggera- 
tion, 22 ; hogshead of sense, 232 ; imi- 
tates the kangaroo, 137; "Island Isa," 
174; laced clothes, 260; in a library, 
295 ; love of life, 297 ; journey to 

s s 


Edinburgh and return, 59, 304 ; Journey 
1o the Hebrides, 17, 156, 259; lemonade, 
71, 107; levee, 75; meals, to; objects 
of his tour, 24: Odes, i, 168; peats, 
3 ; politeness, 257 ; projected monu- 
ment, 288 ; retirement, 95 ; roving 
among the Hebrides, 23, 227 ; sacrilege, 
132; Sassenach mohr, i; scenery, 24- 
29, 86, 1 20, 245 ; Scotch feeling towards 
him, 7-16, 259, 300 ; his feeling towards 
them, 7, 16; sleep, 152; spurs, 173; 
tavern-life, 299; traditions of him, 1-7, 
156, 164, 189, 191, 204, 296, 302 ; 
Ursa Major, 79; walking-stick, 2, 34, 
173, 176, 220; wig, 3, 197, writing 
doggedly, 81 ; young English buck, 
Johnston, 2, 5, 12, 195, 234. 

fonson, Ben, 304. 

Jopp, Provost, 1 1 6. 

Jougs, 138. 

Judges, on circuit, 115; their brutality, 

Kames, Lord (Henry Home), 34, 41, 43, 

62, 66, 80, 274. 
Kangaroos, 137. 
Keith, 66. 
Kerr, Lord Mark, 123. 
Kerrera, 242. 
Kilarovv, 235. 
Kilmarnock, 271. 
Kilmarnock, Earl of, 126. 
Kincardine, Countess of. 272. 
Kinghorn, 86-7. 
Kingsburgh, 181. 
Kinnoul, Earl of, 228. 
Kirkcaldy, 87-8. 
Knives and forks, 43, 252. 
Knox, John (the reformer), 16, 81, 94, 


Knox, John, the traveller, 9, 45, 148, 161, 
165, 187, 189, 204, 209, 243, 263. 

Lady, title of, 189. 
Land, 74, n. 2. 
Lauderdale, Earl of, 49. 
Laurencekirk, 109. 
Leach, ,25. 

I.eechman, Principal, 266. 
Leuchars, 103. 
Leven, Earl of, 49. 
: Lewis, Island of, 182-3. 
Libraries, 84, 100. 
Lichfield, 91, 133, 220. 
Linlithgow, 171. 
Lismore, n. 
Loch Awe, 141, 245. 
Loch Bracadale, 204, 206. 
Loch Buie, 5, 233-242. 
Loch Uuich, 2, 163. 
Loch Eollart, 185. 
Loch Fyne, 247, 253. 
Loch Grishinish, 184. 
Loch Harport, 211. 
Loch Hourn, 144. 
Lochiern, 21. 

Loch Lomond, 6, 25, 30, 253, 255-61. 
Loch Na Keal, 218. 
Loch Ness, 27, 30, 149-52. 
Loch Snizort, 181, 184. 
Loch Uisk, 233. 
Lochbuy, Laird of (John Macleane), 5, 


Lochbuy, Lady, 6, 189, 234. 
Lochbuy, Macleane of, (the present 

Laird), 237, 240, 242. 
Lodore, 151. 

Loudoun, Countess of, 296. 
Loudoun, Earl of, 270. 
Lovat, Lord, 141. 
Lugar, 280, 287. 
Luss, 255, 258. 
Lyttelton, Lord, 15 n. 3. 

Macaulay, Lord, n, 135, 137, 253, 


Macaulay, Rev. John, n, 253. 
Macaulay, Rev. Kenneth, 135-59. 
Macaulay, Zachary, 253. 
Macbeth, 147. 

Macdonald, Sir Alexander, 6, 22, 167. 
Macdonald, Flora, 19, 181-83. 
Macdonald, Sir James, 180. 
Macdonald of Kingsburgh, 182, 184. 
Mackenzie, Henry, 63. 
Mackenzie, Mrs. 145 
Mackenzies, clan of, 158. 
Mackinnon, Lachlan, 170. 


Mackinnon, Mrs., 168. 

Mackinnon's Cave, 226. 

Mackintosh, Sir James, 226. 

Mackintoshes, clan of, 155. 

Macleane, Sir Allan, 6, 218, 221-30 234. 

Macleane of Col, 4, 21, 35, 211 ,220, 226, 


Macleane of Drumnen, 25. 
Macleane, Dr., 218. 
Macleane of Lochbuy. See LOCHBUY. 
Macleane, Miss, 218. 
Macleod of Macleod, Miss, 2, 191, 284. 
Macleod, Lady, 189-90, 194. 
Macleod, Laird of, 2, 29, 177, 186-9, 209. 
Macleod, the old Laird of, 187, 192. 
Macleod, Major Alexander, 189. 
Macleod, Colonel, 187, 207-9. 
Macleod, John, of Raasay, 19, 171, 174- 


Macleod, Malcolm, 171-73, 179. 
Macleod, Mrs., of Ulinish, 204. 
Macleod, Rev. Neal, 231. 
Macleod, Sir Roderick, 193. 
Macleod's Maidens, 194, 207. 
Macleod's Tables, 197. 
Macpherson, James, 10, n, 63. 
Macquarrie of Ulva, 220. 
Macqueen, Rev Donald, 4, 18, 171, 177, 


Macsweyn, 3 ft. i, 35. 
Magus Moor, 88. 
Maine, Sir Henry, 177. 
Mallet, David, 62. 
Mam Rattaclian, 2, 164, 241. 
Man not naturally good, 189. 
Mansfield, Earl of, 20, 1 24. 
Martin, M., 23, 173, 175, 179, 198, 200, 

206, 216. 

Mary, Queen of Scots, 69, 106, 250, 299. 
Mason, Rev. William. 28. 151. 
Matheson, Rev. Alexander, 145 n. i, 156, 


Matthews, Charles, 284. 
McCraas, 144, 161. 
Meals, 20, 41, 43-5, 165. 
Medical men, 232. 
Melville, Viscount, (Henry Dundas), 77, 


Merk, Scotch, 121. 
Mile stones, 253. 

Militia, 64. 

Millar, Andrew, 14. 

Milne, Walter, 93. 

Ministers, 19. 

M'Nicol, Rev. Donald, 11, 135 . i. 

Moidart, 144. 

Monboddo, Lord (James Burnet), 15, 18, 

80, 1 10-15, 2 76> 3o. 
Monboddo House, 113. 
Montgomery, Lord Chief Baron, 58. 
Montrose, 104, 107. 
Moray, Bishop of, 1 20. 
Mordaunt, Brigadier, 298. 
More, Hannah, 1 1 r. 
Moy, 233. 

Mull, 6, 218-20, 227, 231-42. 
Murdoch, William, 289. 
Murray. Dr. James A. H., ti8. 
Murison, Rev. Dr., too. 
Muthill, 119. 

Nairn, 134. 

Nairne, Colonel, tor. 

Nairne, Lord, 101. 

Nairne, William (Lord Dunsinan), 85. 

Napkins, 252. 

Neat, 45, 108, 291. 

New Hailes, 2, 291-7. 

Newcastle, first Duke of, 274. 

Newcastle Fly, 59. 

Nivernois, Duke de, 66. 

Nonjurors, 119. 

Northcote, James, 123. 

Northumberland, 109. 

Oats, 42, 242, 257. 

Oban, 242-44. 

Ochiltree, 288. 

Ogden, Rev. Dr. Samuel, 75. 

Oglethorpe, General, 49, n. 2. 

Old Mortality, 289. 

Onmi, 112. 

Ormond, Duke of, 158. 

Ossian, 18, 20, 294. 

Ostig, 213. 

Otaheite, 261. 

Oxford, 98, 100, 117, 266, 304. 

Paoli, Pascal, 74, 278-80, 287. 
Patriarchal life, 177. 


Patronage, 90. 

Paufer, Thomas, 130. 

Paul, SirG. O., 221. 

Peasants, 33, 34, 40-43, 112. 

Pembroke College, Oxford, 97. 

Penance rings, 137. 

Pennant, Thomas, 24, 28, 34, 82, 91, 98, 
I0 9. IT 7, 137, M9. l6 5. '95. 2 ". 22 9> 
235. 246-47. 249. 2 53, 264, 304. 

Percy, Dr. Thomas ( Bishop of Dromore), 


Perth, 117, 172. 

Philibeg, 171. 

Pictish Forts, 167. 

Pinkie, 69. 

Pitcairne, Dr. Archibald, 109. 

Pitfour, Lord, 146. 

Pitt, William. See EARL OF CHATHAM. 

Pius IX., 106. 

Plaids, 147, 171. 

Plane trees, 101, n. 2. 

Plutarch, i i i. 

Poker Club, 64, 303. 

Poland, 279. 

Porteous Riots, 78. 

Porter, Lucy, 220. 

Portraits, 192. 

Portree, 180, 184. 

Post chaises, 68, 87, 148. 

Posts, 123, 145, 170, 262, 292. 

Potatoes, 35. 

Presbyterians, 274. 

Preston Pans, 69. 

Prince Charlie's Caves, 206. 

Pringle, Sir John, 74, 274, 281. 

Prisons, 54, 146. See DUNGEON. 

Pulteney, William (Earl of Bath), 232. 

Querns, 211. 
Quin, James, 280. 

Raasay, 2, 19, 142, 171-79. 
Raeburn, Sir Henry, 192. 
Ramsay, Allan, 77, 267, 269, 298. 
Ramsay, John, of Ochtertyre, 45, 56, 174, 

189, 241, 272, 278, 294. 
Ranelagh Gardens, 49. 
Rattachan. See MAM RATTACHAN. 
Ray, James, 129, 149. 

Rebellion of i 745-46, 101, 119, 123, 127, 

129, 134, 142-46, 149-52, 154-55. '71, 

179, 181, 264-65, 296, 298. 
Reformation, The, 16. 
Reid, Rev. Dr. Thomas, 63, 120, 263. 
Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 17, 123, 127, 249, 

277, 283. 

Ritter, Joseph, 86. 
Rizzio, David, 85. 

Roads, 87, 147-48, 184, 224, 245, 260 
Robert II., 267. 
Robertson, Rev. Dr. William, 14, 22, 48, 

63, 66, 77, 81-5, 123, 223, 298-99. 
Robinson, " Peter," 79. 
Rochester, Earl of, 91. 
Rogers, Samuel, 59. 
Roger, Professor Thorold, 237. 
Rollo, Lord, 119. 
Room-setters, 71, n. 4. 
Rorie More, 186, 190, 193-96. 
Rosedew, 257. 
Rosslyn Chapel, 304. 
Rosslyn, first Earl of, 287. 
Rousseau, 5, 77, in, 287. 
Rowlandson, Thomas, 281. 
Royal Charlotte, 192. 
Ruddiman, Thomas, 80, 109. 
Rum, Isle of, 213. 
Ruskin, John, 57. 
Russell, Lord William, 303. 

Sacheverell, William, 162, 216,219, 229. 

Sacrament-Sunday, 201. 

Saint-Fond, Faujas de, 29, 51, 84, 90, 92, 
96-7, 243. 252-56. 

Sailers, 69, 236. 

Saluting, 182. 

Sandiland, 224. 

Scalpa, 173. 

Scarsdale, Lord, 168. 

Scenery, 24-34, 87, 218. 

Schools, 259. 

Sconser, 211. 

SCOTCH, boastful, 14 ; clannish, 14 ; com- 
bination, 14, 39; decencies of life neg- 
lected, 41-8; English abuse, 38; Eng- 
lish ignorance of them, 24, 36; English 
imitated, 7, 60-3 ; historical nation, 63 ; 
hospitality, 65 ; ill-fed, 41 ; learning, 


60, 290 ; neglect of the beautiful, 32 ; ; 
outcry against Johnson, 8-15; road ! 
to England, 38 ; sensitive to criticism, 
7 ; vigour of character, 32, 38, 40 
Scots Hunters, 49. 
Scots Magazine, 7. 

SCOTT, SIR WALTER, Lord Auchinleck, 
274, 278; Sir A. Boswell, 283-84; Bu- 
chanan a favourite author, 91 ; colliers 
and sailers, 259; cruise in 1814, 124; 
Duke of Cumberland, 143; death of 
Col, 220; dominies, 279; at Dunvegan, 
188, 191, 193, 195; Lord Elibank, 298; 
Highland accommodation, 8; Highland 
dress, 172; house in the College Wynd, 
48. 78 ; Inch Kenneth, 221 ; inns, 151 ; 
lona, 229 ; Johnson and Adam Smith, 
263; Johnson's Ode, 168; last quota- 
tion from Johnson, 83 ; Johnston, 234 ; 
Lord Monboddo, 112, 114; Old Mor- 
tality, 291 ; Peveril of the Peak, 79; 
his popularity, 286 ; Scotch learning, 
6 1 ; Archbishop Sharpe, 88; at St. 
Andrews. 96 ; in Skye, i ; Lord Stowell, 
71; at Tobennory, 217; trees, 34; 
Wizard of the North, 38. 

Scott, William (Lord Stowell), 68, 71. 

Seaforth, Lord, 161. 

Sharpe, Archbishop, 88, 97. 

Sheep-shearing, 163. 

Shenstone, William, 72, 214. 

Sidney, Algernon, 303. 

Sikes, Sir Charles, 285. 

Silver fork, 252. 

Singing, 173. 

Singing-birds, 163. 

Skinner, Rev. John, 119. 

Skye, the verge of European life, 170 ; one 
magistrate, i 77. 

Slains Castle, 124-29. 

Slaves, 292. 

Sligachan, 211. 

Smallet of Dumbarton, 217. 

SMITH, ADAM, praises Boswell, 272 ; con- 
versation, 278; farming, 35 ; Kirkaldy, 
66, 87-8 ; old town of Edinburgh, 59 ; 
peasantry, 41 ; professor at Glasgow, 
263 ; reported quarrel with Johnson, 
263 ; room in Hume's house, 67, 74 ; 
Select Society, 298; no statue to him, 

77 ; tax on coal, 263 ; the Union, 39 ; 
Wealth of Nat ions, 63. 

Smith, , an architect, 294. 

Smoking, 91. 

Smollet, Commissary, 260. 

SMOLLETT, TOBIAS, ancestor, 217; beg- 
gars, 43 ; churches, 82 ; Edinburgh 
High Street, 52; Lord Elibank. 297 ; 
funerals, 227 ; Glasgow, 264; Hamilton, 
291 ; Highland dress, 172; and meals, 
44 ; Humphry Clinker, 37 ; inns, 50 ; 
living, 41, 46; his pillar, 261 ; rebel 
prisoners, 155 ; St. Andrews, 91 ; Tears 
of Scotland, 142; turnips, 36; Union, 


Snuff, 161. 

Society for Propagating Christian Know- 
ledge, 266. 
Soldiers, 154, 165. 
Somerset, Duke of, 69. 
South, Rev. Dr. Robert, 16 ft. 6. 
Southey, Robert, 105 n. \. 
Spanish Invasion, 158, 217. 
Speke, Captain, 136. 
Spey, 130. 
Spouse, 107. 

ST. ANDREWS, 16, 17, 88-103; Castle, 
92; Cathedral, 94, 102; Cloisters, 95; 
Glass's Inn, 89 ; nonjuring parson, 1 19 ; 
professors' dinner, 97 ; St. Leonard's 
College, 89; St. Mary's College, 100; 
St. Salvator's College, 99 ; St. Rule, 
96; streets, 91; trees, 97; University, 
98-9, 102. 
St. Kilda, 198. 
Stablers, 51, 69. 
Staffa, 24, 226. 
Stairs, Earl of, 296. 
State of nature, 260. 
Steamboats, 256. 
Stewart, Lady Henrietta, 142. 
Stockdale, Rev. Percival, 98. 
Stone, Jerome, 101. 
Strahan, George, 186. 
Strahan, William, 14, 59. 
Streatham, 176, 276. 
Strolimus, 212. 
Struan, 205. 

Stuart, James, of Dunearn, 284. 
Stuckgown, 256. 


Sugar-tongs, 6. 

Supper-parties, 65. 

Swift, Jonathan, 82, 189, 191. 

Tait, John, 264. 

Talisker, 206-1 1. 

Tarbet, 253, 255-57. 

Tay Bridge, 240. 

Taylor, Rev. Dr. 305. 

Temple, Sir William, 61, 272. 

Temple, Rev. W. J., 267. 

Tennyson, Lord, 249, 294. 

Thomson, James, 57, 63. 

Thrale, Mrs., i, 23, 168, 199, 292. 

Thrale, Miss, 156, 224. 

Tobermory, 216-18. 

Toland, John, 175. 

Toll-gates, 87. 

Topham, Edward, 9, 42, 47, 50. 182, 


Towns, their oddness, 51. 
Tranent, 69. 
Transportation, 116. 
Trapaud, Governor, 161. 
Trees, 16, 32-4, 149, 190, 227, 232, 249, 

275, 288, 296, 302. 
Trevelyan, Sir George, 135, 253. 
Turk's Head Coffee-house, 23, 292. 
Turnips, 35. 
Tytler, A. F., 277, 304. 

Ulinish, 204. 
Ulva, 4, 218-221. 
Union, 15, 39, 236. 
Universities, 83, 99, 120-22, 265. 
Up streets, 53, ;/. 3. 
Utensils, 176. 

Vails, 48. 

Vegetables, 35, 44. 

Venice, 16. 

Vested interests, 237. 

Village communities, 177. 

Vitrified forts, 148. 

Voltaire, 22, 123, 280. 

Wade, General, 147, 150. 

Waggons, 87. 

Wales, 85. 

Walker, Rev. George, 289. 

Wallace, Rev. Robert, D.D., 9. 

Wallace, Sir William, 294. 

Waller, Edmund, 121. 

Walpole, Horace, 37, 64, 127, 132, 215, 
248, 250, 296-97, 303. 

Walpole, Sir Robert, 231. 

Walton, Isaac, 102. 

Washing, 137. 

Washington, George, 188. 

Watson, Professor Robert, 63, 89. 

Watts, Mr., the painter, 229. 

Wellington, Duke of, 301. 

WESLEY, JOHN, Aberbrothick, 105; Aber- 
deen, 119; arrested, 56; Edinburgh 
dirt, 47 ; freeman of Perth, 117 ; fune- 
rals, 241 ; Glasgow, 264-65; Holy Rood 
House, 85; inns, 49; Inverness, 145, 
149, 163; Johnson's Tour, 17; meals, 
44 ; mountain scenery, 28 ; Nairn, 135 ; 
preaching to the Scotch, 40 ; reforming 
mobs, 94; Spey, 130 ; St. Andrews, 89, 
99; towns, 51. 

Wheaten bread, 44, 161, 257. 

Whigs, 282. 

Whisky, 245. 

White Horse, 69. 

Whitefield, Rev. George, 76 

Wia, 205. 

Wilkes, John, 66. 

William III., 274. 

Wilkie, William, D.D.. 10. 

Wilson, John, 77. 

Windows, 47. 

Wishart, George, 93 

Witches, 90. 

Wolfe, Major-General James, 25, 41, 47, 
142-43, 145, 154, 171, 254. 

Worcestershire Volunteers, 265. 

Wordsworth, William, 28, 32, 135, 254. 

Writers to the Signet, 222. 

Yew Tree Island, 258. 
Zoffany, John, 188, 195. 


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Footsteps of Dr. Johnson